Why I Want You to Call Me a Camgirl Online

Professional cam girl asks, “Who are the cam models?”

My name is Libby and I perform on webcam sex sites. Some days I can make a few hundred dollars. Other days I make less than the cost of a sandwich.

It is precarious, hard work that involves a lot of emotional labor and self-protection. But it’s the best job I have ever had.

I have always had difficulty defining myself and my work, particularly when people ask me about my job title. Everyone has their own opinion and people have strong views in all directions.

Just don’t call me a model

Although “webcam model” is often the preferred term to describe my job, particularly as it is gender-neutral, not overly explicit, and is pretty self-explanatory, I find that it is too sanitized. It is too distancing and feels like an attempt to push away the sex work industry and reframe the job to appear similar to the more socially acceptable path of modeling.

I just don’t feel like a model. Traditionally, models are seen as people who wear beautiful clothes and pose for the camera. In my webcam shows, I am constantly moving; I’m dancing, stripping, and often just having a good laugh.

I try not to take myself too seriously and this comes across in my performances. I wear nice clothes, I just take them off for the right number of tokens. My outfits tend to cost less than ten dollars, which is necessary as I have to own lots of different items for variation in my shows.

The term “broadcaster” is also used, but seems too general to describe this form of work. Similar to the term “webcam model, it obscures the explicit nature of the work. It can be useful in different contexts but for me, it is too clunky.

I’m a camgirl

First of all, it sounds more fun. The “girl” part doesn’t bother me within this context. But call me a “girl” in face-to-face interactions and we’ll have a problem.

I think that “camgirl” comes across as more relaxed and playful, which is how I view my shows. I’m open to silly questions, I’ll sing your favorite songs, and if I get bored, I’ll open a good book and read until things get more exciting.

We are still selling a performance, our time, and our intimacy but I’m the one in control. “Camgirl” reflects my attitude to my work, and I don’t find it derogatory. However, I always refer to other people working in the field as they define themselves. All terms associated with sex work tend to be politically charged (including the term “sex work”) and it is up to each individual to choose, not to have terms imposed upon them.

We are the Amazon Prime of sex workers

We are the performers in the age of instant gratification. You want us, we’ll be there as fast as you can click a button. Performers young and old, of any ethnicity or size and all sexualities, can be found on webcam sites. It also opens up opportunities for exploring kinks and fetishes in a safe, (often) anonymous and removed way.

We are intrinsically connected to other forms of sex work. Like exotic dancers, there is a buffer between us: we’ll perform for you but there are limits to our intimacy. Like in pornography, we are giving sexual performances, but many of us are solo performers and most of us don’t have a producer, film crew, or a written script.

We are following our own rules. Like full-service sex work, we develop long-term, intimate relationships with our customers. We gain trust, build friendships, and open up sexual opportunities.

Webcam models embrace new tech instinctively: we are at the front line when new sex tech comes out, particularly if, like the Lovense Lush and Lush 2 vibrators, we can synchronize it to tip/token payments from our clients.

We know how this helps us build a stronger bond and our customers like how they can trigger a sexual response from us that they can experience visually.

We are also acutely aware of the dangers which seem to evolve and spread week after week. The sex work industry moving online means that the dangers are more covert, technology-related, and are often not publicized.

Our privacy, family lives, and careers outside of webcamming are constantly under threat. We risk exposure or doxing through facial recognition software, customers who will try blackmail you for extortionate amounts of money, and whole Reddit threads devoted to finding out our legal names for, they say, pure curiosity and not with ulterior motives.

We’re not facing physical dangers that affect full-service sex work, but we are always prepared for copyright claims, content removal from pornography websites, and keeping our online safety a top priority.

Despite the differences in our work, many of us do cross over the sex industries and we stand with our friends and colleagues as they fight for recognition that sex work is work, that they deserve rights and protections and in the battle against stigma. Webcam models remain in a legal gray-area in most countries but still being affected by legislation such as FOSTA/SESTA in the US or changes in online adult entertainment legislation in the UK.

For a job in which I just want to cover my rent, I’m always aware that my work is on shaky ground but for now, it’s the best job I could wish for.

In the weeks to come, I’ll share more of my journey in the camming world as well as insights on the technologies, good, bad, and benign, that are shaping the industry.

–Libby–

Image source: Aksa2001, Mike Licht