TW: slut-shaming

I remember slut-shaming in high school. Teenage girls became outcasts because there was a vague rumor going around about their sexual activity, because they had the attention of many of the otherwise horny but irresponsible male population or because vile boys exposed their nudes. There are classmates I have in mind that should’ve never been so mistreated by those who’ve never even given them a chance.

While using Tik Tok and Twitter, however, I saw slut-shaming as this gargantuan monster that persisted to no end to make content creators feel inferior for taking a financial advantage over a misogynistic industry. Many influencers who post on Tik Tok and Twitter are also sex workers who either strip or produce porn for OnlyFans, PornHub, or other adult-content sharing sites. Scrolling through Tik Tok can lead users to some of the funniest clips, unique crafts, and the most impressive cosplay. Among users trying to showcase their jewelry-making skills, their cooking recipes, and their most recent Amazon buys, some have gained an enormous following by showcasing not only who their lovable personalities but also by promoting their sex work.

Given the current societal climate of sexual liberation and opposing patriarchal standards set on women, I would’ve hoped that since my high school days five years ago, women would be able to embrace their sexuality without the fear of facing degradation, hate, injustice, or threats to their livelihoods. Women have not only fallen in love with their sexual nature, but they’ve also used it to their advantage.

Producing porn is a form of financial advantage that women have embodied, even though the porn industry is fueled with misogyny and slut-shaming. Subscription-based content platform OnlyFans has about 30 million registered users as of May 2020, according to their LinkedIn page. OnlyFans also recently got a shout-out from Beyoncé on the remix to Megan Thee Stallion’s song “Savage.” While researching for this article, however, finding any statistics or stories that advocated for porn creators and actors were slim to none. Looking for general information or research on porn was personally difficult because many of the studies I found were either subliminally or in-your-face anti-porn.

For a more pleasant and positive read on porn advocacy, the current CEO of the Free Speech Coalition and former employee at Planned Parenthood for 12 years Diane Duke, told Cosmopolitan magazine in 2015 that “[women] are completely going against what society says they should be doing with their bodies. They are making the decisions that they want to around their bodies. And it’s so exciting, it’s so empowering. Porn now is so great for women — they have their own sites, they do a lot of tweeting, they make content trades with other people. A lot of them are directly benefiting from shoots. This isn’t your grandpa’s porn. It’s women who are taking control of their lives.”

Pole-dancing and stripping are also ways that women have chosen to grasp a financial advantage in a male-dominated industry. Activism against the stigma of stripping is exemplified in modern media with movies like “Hustlers,” with songs like “6-inch” by Beyonce and “Money” by Cardi B, and with the annual SlutWalk hosted by the former stripper and sex-work activist, Amber Rose.

There are personalities on Tik Tok that I’ve personally matched with, that have inspired me or that have simply made me laugh. A lot of these personalities are also sex workers who would often use Tik Tok to either promote their adult content or speak out about what it’s like being a sex worker. One of my favorite influencers is Hawkhatesyou.

I’ve followed Hawk’s content since she was on Vine over five years ago, and she’s quite plainly one of the best. Her videos then and now are really funny, genuine, and down-to-earth. Her toddler is featured in her videos sometimes, and together, they make wholesome and downright cute content. With her success on Tik Tok, she’s generated a large enough following to create merchandise related to her Tik Tok and donated money from the merchandise sales to Planned Parenthood. She also uses her platform to advocate for sex workers, the LBGTQ+ community, and abortion rights.

Hawk often talks about her struggles with being a sex-worker on her social media accounts. Her large following garners attention from those who don’t agree with her profession. She’s constantly criticized for being a mother and a sex worker. She calls out disgusting creeps in her comment section that say they will show her daughter the adult the content she creates. Her address was previously leaked, and in order to feel safe and protect her daughter, she has had to move to a new house. She rarely, if ever, goes by her legal first name because that information can be linked to other private information. She also doesn’t reveal her daughter’s name for safety reasons.

She has made many Tik Toks speaking out about the harassment she receives and she recently shared a thread on Twitter created by sex worker Allie Eve Knox:

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Knox describes her personal experience with sex work in the rest of her thread. The bottom line is that sex work is real work. It’s honest work. It’s not fair for women to get constantly harassed and threatened for work that was originally human-made. Sex workers are human beings with lives outside of what they post. As long as their work is consensual, they shouldn’t be shamed for creating content that people generally want anyway. For more insight on sex work, visit Sex Workers Outreach Project USA, Sex Workers Project or Global Network of Sex Work Projects

Read also:
Dear Society, Stop Shaming Women For Their Aspirations
How Social Media Treats Victims Of Sexual Harassment
Right To Sexual Pleasure: The Personal IS Political