According to an unsurprising 2012 study, 80 percent of the photos on the Internet are of naked women.
Even with Facebook and Instagram laying down the law when it comes to nip-slips, it is now easier than ever to join the ranks of those whose privates are made public on the Internet from now until the end of time. Smartphone technology has placed handheld porn-making machines into the pockets of the masses. Blog portals like Tumblr and The Chive are dependent on user-generated selfies of sideboob, thong shots, and in Tumblr's case, even hardcore porn. Web-camming platforms like My Free Cams and Skin Video have the potential to turn any person with a webcam into a porn star. It's also easy as pie to be a non-consensual creeper and screengrab a Snapchat of your girlfriend's boobs, or flood Twitter with naked photos of a frenemy's “Girls Gone Wild” moment in Vegas. Whether we make the choice or someone else does, more and more of us are showing up naked on the Internet all the time.
When I initially made the decision to do porn in 2008, I was naïve and optimistic about the world. I knew that the probability was high that people from my personal life would find my pornographic performance, but I was convinced that it wouldn't matter. I thought that if classmates or a family members found my porn, they would remain silent for fear of outing themselves as consumers of porn, and we would both be locked into a Cold War of shame, both parties reluctant to admit their transgression into the world of online sex.
Of course, I was wrong.
A few months after I shot my first porn scene, I received a text message from a family member. The text contained a snapshot of a computer screen. On the screen flashed the website I had shot for earlier that year, with my smiling face and naked body in the shower next to my co-star. I was mortified. My stomach tightened and I don't think I stopped fear-sweating for a solid month after receiving that text.
Even years ago, before social media accelerated the spread of information, the news of my performance spread throughout my family, college, and hometown simultaneously. Before I had even made the decision to be a career sex worker, almost everyone in my life knew about and had potentially watched my porn. I realized that my choice to be naked on the Internet would perhaps affect my life, so I had better learn to embrace it.
Fast-forward six years later to Belle Knox, the “Duke Porn Star” who was outed by a classmate and then mercilessly bullied, threatened, and shamed by peers and even my old friend, Dr. Drew of Loveline. Dr. Drew (who you may remember advised me not to do porn way back when) said to Knox on live television that if he were her father he would kill himself.
Is Thomas Bagley, the Duke frat boy who outed her, facing public shaming or threats for subscribing to FacialAbuse.com where he discovered Knox's work? Of course not. This world does not punish porn consumers in the same way it punishes porn performers.
The majority of the Internet is devoted to naked girls, and still people act like performing in porn is the worst thing anyone can ever do. The paradox isn't new.
Like me, Knox was optimistic when she began her career in the sex industry. In her first article for xojane.com, she writes:
“People often ask me this question, 'But when you graduate, you won't be able to get a job, will you? I mean, who would hire you?' I simply shrug and say, 'I wouldn't want to work for someone who discriminates against sex workers.'”
Call it naïvete, but I find Knox's outlook inspiring. I too dream of a day when sex workers and anyone who has made a harmless sexual transgression via the World Wide Web can live free of persecution and shame.
Because, at the rate we're going, someday, everyone will be naked on the Internet.