Final Major Project

Meet the webcam girls who are taking advantage of the accessibility of customer relationships

After seeing other cam girl’s and learning of the work they did through Instagram, Arianne Logan* always thought the industry looked like something she wanted to get in to- there was just one catch, she was in a serious relationship of six -years.

Arianne Logan, 21, from Skegness, is just one of thousands of girls who strip on webcams for money. With just an internet connection and a modern laptop it’s incredibly easy to earn cash by engaging in conversation with anyone who wants to see them take their clothes off.

For Arianne, this isn’t her full time profession as she is an accounts assistant by day. But part-time she engages with a broad range of clientele, by posting sexy photos and videos on her Instagram and social media as well as stripping off on webcam to gain a bit of extra money.

Within the webcamming industry it isn’t just about sex though,some girls just provide companionship whereas some perform sexual acts on camera.

“When you’ve got the relationship with them they’re more inclined to buy you stuff,” says Arianne.

‘Cam girls’ or ‘Webcam models’ are a fairly new phenomenon, after the first webcam model, American college student Jennifer Ringley created her own website ‘Jennicam’ in 1996.

Model at MyFreeCams Expo- Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Although, it wasn’t until 2003 that instant messaging services began integrating webcams into their software, which allowed people to communicate via face-to-face communication. By 2011 webcams had been incorporated into smartphones and other handheld devices.

Since then, the webcam, which was originally created for general face-to-face communication (before the likes of Facetime!), has opened more doors for sex work to ensue in the more personal, intimate corners of your laptop.

According to Internet World Stats, since the internet was created in 1995, the number of users has risen from 16 million to 4,157 million globally, meaning that 54.4% of the population are now going online to communicate.

In fact, when asked, 73.9% of people only claim to know ‘a little bit’ about the webcamming industry, with 17.4% of people saying they knew nothing about it and 8.7% of people knowing a lot.

Click image to view results from our recent survey

When Arianne broke up with her boyfriend, she saw the perfect opportunity to begin her part-time job and signed up to Xtreme Playpen in December 2017.

This is just one of thousands of other sites on the internet, such as Strictly Models, Eye Kandi Models, Chaturbate and Cam 4.

These sites help provide the online platform for their models to advertise their services and act as a community where they can work together or share tips and advice.

According to an article written by the Independent there is no law that prohibits the work of ‘cam girls’ either, although there is a recent law, passed in 2014, which banned certain acts from being depicted and uploaded by British pornography producers. The Digital Economy Bill, which was released in 2017, has stated that minors’ are restricted from accessing pornographic material online.

However, this is more focused on recordings than live streaming, making work as a cam girl completely legal.

With the site helping Arianne set up her very own Instagram and social media accounts to promote herself and start earning money, she was all set and began building regular customers in no time.

She believes that it’s a good way to make a bit of extra money and in return she ensures she looks after her customers, the same way you would in any other job.

“Webcamming is a service like any other service. They’re paying customers, that’s what they want and you’re fulfilling what they need or want. “It’s really fun.”

Although Arianne can’t disclose how much money she makes from the site, some sources suggest up to £3 a minute in a private chat.

She admits that what you earn depends on how confident you are in front of the camera, something she doesn’t struggle with.

“It’s mainly just striptease, I’ve not done anything on cam that’s explicit.

“Every now and then you will do a bit of dirty talk, that gets the money, but you can’t go too in depth because there’s also custom content as well which sells for a lot more.”

Custom content includes videos or photos that the cam girl can sell to her customers, which generally is more explicit or niche and generates a lot more money, as they will charge a set rate per person.

Since beginning, Arianne can’t believe how easy the industry is to get into and now feels that she has the freedom to be in control and do what she wants whilst making money.

“It gives you a big boost in your confidence doing it. I always feel that after I’ve done it I always feel amazing! 

“You just feel empowered doing it because obviously all eyes are on you.

“It’s kind of like a little TV show just about you, I do enjoy it.”

Mia Stokes*, 23, from Birmingham has different reasons for becoming a cam girl, after experiencing the industry in 2016 to fund her season in Ibiza.

She was introduced to the industry after she saw a post on an Ibiza workers’ Facebook group, which was advertising for girls to make money with just a laptop and a webcam.

Image taken from video- re-enactment

During her time in Ibiza, Mia came across many girls like her, who were looking for easy, part-time jobs which would help fund their partying lifestyles.

She recalls, “I made so many friends out in Ibiza just because we were all doing it, we all had our own group chat where we would speak to each other, there was so many girls doing it.”

But for Mia, her commitment wasn’t quite at the same level and she insists she wasn’t quite as much of a performer as some girls.

“Some girls are completely out there; it is like a show for them because they are performing.

“But for me because I am so body confident and so confident in speaking to people anyway, for me I couldn’t believe how easy it was to just speak to a geezer and get money from it.

“I am just myself on there, it’s not like a character or anything like that, it’s just me speaking to someone and getting paid so I didn’t feel empowered or anything,” she says.

For many people who work within the adult entertainment industry, their work is mutually beneficial for both them and the paying customer, however that doesn’t stop the customer from trying to make that relationship go the extra mile.

With the webcam providing a much more intimate experience and a chance for the customer to be closer and more personal with their fantasies, this has been an issue for both Arianne and Mia when trying to draw the line with their online relationships.

However casual these relationships, both girls admit they have felt uncomfortable with some customers.

“You do have your favourites! It’s usually the ones who pay you the most compliments,” reflects Arianne.

She continues, “I had one guy messaging me every single day and I kind of had to say to him ‘look you are just a customer’- I can’t form an emotional connection.”

For Mia, she found it hard to put up with the persona that she was really invested in the customer and what they were confiding in her about.

“I had this one guy who would come back quite a lot, spend a lot of time telling me about his ex wife, why they got divorced, his kids, wanted to take me on holiday and you have to give this illusion that one day it was going to happen or I felt the same, to keep them coming back. At the end of the day that is how you’re getting paid.”

Photo Credit: Maxpixel

Sociologist, Caroline Jones, who teaches at the University of Salford, agrees that this behaviour is the normal attitude of a sex worker, as their normal lives are generally completely separate. Caroline suggest the power often rests with sex workers in the relationship dynamic between them and their clients.

“A good sex worker will have you believe that it’s possible [to enjoy an intimate relationship with them], but the reality is she’s not thinking of you again once she goes home,” explains Caroline.

She says that although it may seem that the girl on the other side of the webcam is fully invested in the relationship you have developed, it is mainly about the money.

“It’s quite simply a transaction, but in the same way there is in physical sex work, a lot of clients like to fool themselves that there’s something more going on, they’re special and she actually likes them.

“I imagine that’s the same in this [camgirl] situation, that if that’s what a client wants then that’s what women will provide, but that doesn’t mean it’s true, that doesn’t mean that’s what’s going on for her behind the scenes.”

This is the case for Arianne, as she tries to keep her focus on her career outside of being a cam girl.

“I just keep it completely separate. I mean I only do my webcam and that at night, after work or on a weekend. If I’m at work I don’t check it, I won’t go on the website, I just kind of leave that till I get out of work,” she says.

During a BBC Three Documentary ‘The Truth About Webcam Girls’ that was recorded in 2014, the producers of the show touched upon the idea that the webcam industry, as part of the adult entertainment industry, could lead to porn and other areas within adult work.

“I’ve never felt pressured to do it” Arianne admits.

“I have had like some guys, I think they were just pretending to be it, but they were just like ‘oh you should do porn, you should do some porn with me’. I was like that’s not going to happen.”

The furthest that Mia would delve into in the industry is stripping, as she feels that she is body confident enough to perform in front of paying customers in a live setting and not just in front of a webcam.

“If you’re doing it in the right environment, in the right setting, in a nice place and it’s all set up then I don’t see why not. I would personally do it,” she says.

Currently, webcamming is the fastest growing sector in the adult entertainment industry and with the ease and accessibility of it all, it’s easy to see why some girls are turning to this profession for a bit of easy money in exchange for a bit of their time.

But the porn industry is nothing new, with the Karma Sutra text dating back to the third century, something which has become a cultural cornerstone of sensual living.

Photo Credit: Dineshkannambadi at English Wikipedia

Caroline agrees, she thinks that although the platform for forming non-commital or sexual relationships has changed, it has always happened through time and people are just more honest about it.

“Part of me thinks that this has always gone on in different groups for different reasons and it’s not just the internet, it’s the whole sexual revolution.

“It’s better education, better contraception, less judgement, women being able to support themselves if they have children or don’t live with a man- all these things have fed into the culture where we don’t feel forced to commit to some man and then live off them forever more.

“The internet has provided us with a quick and easy way of meeting people.”

In both Mia and Arianne’s cases their work as cam girls is just a short term solution, to help them whilst they fund their lifestyles or future careers.

Mia ended her work as a cam girl when she found herself in a relationship that moved her from Birmingham to London and with a boyfriend who wasn’t comfortable with the situation she decided to stop.

But Arianne is still enjoying her time as a cam girl and largely thanks the website she’s working with for that.

“I really wouldn’t have just carried it on if they weren’t as supportive as what they are. It’s just like a little happy family really and all the girls are so lovely as well.

“They’ll always message you on your Instagram posts, like oh you look so good. It’s just a massive confidence boost.”

Different types of feminists argue as to whether the internet creating another profession that allows women to take their clothes off for money and male gain is a good thing in terms of women’s rights.

As a feminist herself, Carol suggests that women should be able to use their bodies in whatever way they like.

“This can be seen as a great stride forward for women’s emancipation or it could be seen as taking us right back, but I’m not sure we ever moved that far forward from not being judged purely on our image. At least this way women are having some form of control over their image.”

She believes that the webcamming industry could be seen as empowering as it has benefits for both the cam girl, who is getting money, and the client, who is getting pleasure.

“If a woman has made that choice and is happy with that choice and it’s mutually beneficial and she’s getting what she wants out of it, then it can be seen as empowering. It’s probably a quicker way of getting to Ibiza than shelf stacking in Tesco’s.”

*NOTE: Some names have been changed for the purpose of this article

 

NEXT: Notes on the series

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