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Webcam performers are often highly entrepreneurial, and they harness mainstream social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr to build and maintain relationships with customers.
It’s difficult for radical feminists to claim that a shrewd businesswoman – who may have thousands of fans, thanks to her clever use of social media – has been victimised by her involvement in this form of pornography.
Since the birth of the feminist movement in the 19th century, women involved in sex work have been portrayed as victims in need of rescue.
Today, webcam performers are challenging this contrived image.
This is supposed to be justified by the greater risk of fraud associated with the credit cards used to pay for webcam sessions.
But Varwijk, who has run for 15 years, claims that only 0.03 per cent of transactions result in chargebacks.
Webcamming gives women the opportunity to reclaim profits from the traditionally male-dominated pornography industry.
What’s more, they can maintain control of their image and dictate the terms and conditions on which they are viewed – all from the relative safety of their own homes.
The hours are flexible, the working environment is safe and the salary can be very rewarding.
Indeed, webcamming allows individuals access to global markets, which could give women in deprived areas a chance to raise themselves out of poverty.
But portraying the webcamming industry as a sort of online utopia for sex workers does not show the whole picture. The women I spoke to for my Ph D research were worried about viewers filming and sharing their performances on porn sites, or acquiring personal information which could be used to stalk or blackmail them.
Every single webcam transaction passes through – and profits – the banking system.
According to Varwijk, the banking system charges between 7 per cent and 15 per cent for providing payment facilities – much more than the 2 per cent to 3 per cent they usually charge.
The development of the internet has completely transformed the way we do business; and the “oldest profession” is no exception.