Do Sex Cams Exploit Women?

Sexual exploitation of women, children and even men has occurred in every human society throughout history. While a variety of mediums can be used to sexually exploit others, the consequences of this disturbing behavior are never less than devastating. It didn’t take long for the internet to join the huge arsenal of technological developments used for sexual abuse. First, the internet was used to distribute illegal images and videos, many of which could be classified as child pornography. By the time the webcam came into widespread use, online sexual exploitation was pervasive. Dozens of websites were busted for using underage models for their sex cam services. Parents worried that their children would stumble on adult chatrooms and end up being stalked, kidnapped, raped or even killed.

Increased regulation and hardworking authorities have helped to reduce the amount of abuse taking place through cybersex communities. Unfortunately, sexual predators have learned to take advantage of more recent technological developments, social networks being a prime example. As such, sexual exploitation and predation continues to threaten millions of internet users to this day.

Many people worry that legal sex cam sites exploit women just as much as illegal ones. Some of the sites features BDSM so extreme that it almost borders on rape or sexual assault. However, behaviors that otherwise would not be tolerated are considered more acceptable when they take place in a virtual sense. Adult webcam users often feel that more extreme sexual practices are okay when done over the internet as they are not physically harmful to the sex worker. This may be true is some circumstances, but women and men paid to use sex cams often experience severe mental and emotional damage. Some internet sex workers can also be physically harmed while using sex cams, especially those featured on couples sex cams and group sex cams.

Feminist groups worry that in addition to direct physical and emotional harm on the sex workers, the use of sex cams can damage women in less obvious ways. Men frequently take on more aggressive roles with their virtual partner than they might in person. If a frequent sex cam user comes to expect women to act submissive during virtual sex, he will be more likely to hold the same expectations in real-life situations. By viewing sexual partners as objects, these men begin to blur the lines for what counts as rape, and what is simply a woman acting out her submissive role. The same behavior may also occur for women who solicit virtual sex from male sex workers, although far fewer women sign up for cybersex communities.

On the other side of the debate are those who believe that regulated cybersex rarely exploits women. These online communities are only open to consenting adults. All users are warned about sexually explicit and potentially offensive material before they enter adult websites. And in the rare case that a user is sexually harassed or abused, it is much easier for that person to get out of the situation than it would be in a real-world instance of rape. All the user really needs to do is turn off the webcam and report the user. Reputable websites work hard to protect the privacy of users and keep them safe from stalkers. Cybersex community owners and moderators argue that users are no more likely to be stalked than anybody with a Facebook profile or Twitter page.

A major concern with cybersex sites is that women are being forced to work there against their will. While this is not true of all or even most sex cam sites, forced internet prostitution is a present threat to thousands of women. Any time a woman is forced to work for a cybersex site against her will, she is being trafficked. Human trafficking is a serious offense and has been labeled a “crime against humanity” by the International Criminal Court.

Sex workers on paid sites are more likely to be exploited than users on free cybersex communities. However, there are dozens of reputable sex cam websites that treat workers with respect and dignity. A number of these sites are accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and unionized by the International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW). If you want to utilize the services provided by adult websites without adding to the pervasive exploitation that takes place in this industry, all you need to do is look to see if the website is accredited and whether it has policies in place ensuring the protection and fair treatment of its workers.