Morality: Sex, Lies, and Hypocrisy

Here they come again.  The all-important, self-styled watchdogs of virtue think that they can condemn the camming industry.  And they routinely claim the high ground because they’re backed by some religious authority, an ancient text, or some sanctimonious politician.  And from their lofty perches, they proclaim themselves to be the moral guardians of us all.  But have they earned this privilege?  Definitely not.  

First of all, it would probably be best to define what morality means.  To us, acting in an upright manner means treating others with respect.  Don’t cheat people.  Don’t lie.  Don’t take advantage of someone else if you find yourself in a position of power.  Most of all, show empathy.  In any given situation, what is the right and moral thing to do?  Given options, which path should you choose?  

It’s always clear that the road you take should be the one that causes no harm, or, if unavoidable, the one that causes the least harm.  

Self-proclaimed guardians of morality are always happy to target pornography, camming, and sex work because it’s so easy for them to label those who engage in these professions as corrupting influencers whose actions are harmful to men, women, and children.  These so-called protectors can do this almost effortlessly, and with little pushback because this mindset is more or less a default setting in our society.  A knee-jerk reaction to sexual freedom is basically woven into the fabric of our culture and is firmly based on centuries of religious dogma.    

This is nothing new, of course.  The Bible has much to say about the supposed perversions of different kinds of sexual activity, whether this involves men lying with other men as they ought to lie with women or a man committing adultery in his heart just by looking at a woman lustfully.  And in instances where the Bible may not have even originally meant to condemn some actions, well-meaning religious devotees have subsequently found a way to have it do that nonetheless.  This is the case, for instance, with masturbation.

To many who have subscribed or do subscribe to religious teachings, this brand of self-harm is a horrific sin.  Consider John Harvey Kellogg, the physician who (along with his brother) gave the world Corn Flakes.  He was so convinced that masturbation was an abomination against all that is good and holy that he devised a whole host of interventions to prevent children from exploring their bodies.  These benevolent treatments included jabbing boys’ foreskins with suturing needles to prevent erections, and burning the clitorises of young girls with carbolic acid.  Add to these mutilations a lifetime of shame, and the result is a sexually repressed person who blames himself or hates herself for every natural thought.  And this was a man who believed that he was doing God’s work.  

To the extremists of old, sex of any kind was bad, unless it was done with the express purpose of earnestly trying to conceive a child—and then it must be an act begrudgingly performed by a couple, married in the church, who do it only so that they can perpetuate the beings made in God’s image.  Even then, it was not to be enjoyed.  No doubt, there are many who still believe this.  When even this basic reproductive obligation has had the power to arouse such ire in servants of the cloth, is it any wonder that those on the Religious Right today can still gain so much mileage through their condemnation of “perversions” ranging from masturbation to pornography to premarital sex to homosexual sex to those who have sex for a living?

This is quite revealing.  These defenders of the Word cry out about the evils of sex, and they try to discredit, marginalize, or abuse those who don’t find it to be a shameful thing.  But it’s not really about sex to most of them.  It’s about power.  What could be worse than a woman being naked in a place (the Internet, perhaps?) where anyone can see her?  We can tell you: A naked woman who uses that nakedness to earn a living, thereby defying the centuries-old power structure that gave rise to the world that keeps these stern-faced men at the top.  Why are so many people so quick to condemn homosexuality?  Maybe because it’s such an easy thing to do.  Preaching against gay people is a lot less nuanced than preaching against greed or pride or hypocrisy.  If it’s about “the act”, then many of these judges can honestly say that they have never done it.  But how many of them have never actually coveted their neighbor’s wife or his goods?  But that’s complicated, so they avoid it.  Better to keep the high ground—you, the sinners, and us, the chosen.

And then there’s adultery.  Socially conservative defender of religion, Newt Gingrich, was appalled at his second wife’s claim that he had asked her for an open marriage while he was having an affair with his now third wife.  In 2012, he vehemently denied this to raucous applause from a sympathetic conservative crowd during a presidential debate.  These traditionalists had no quarrel with Newt having a wife and a mistress at the same time.  But they were deeply concerned about the possibility that he and his wife might each have affairs while still married to each other.  A woman who knows multiple men is a threat to society.  But a man who knows multiple women is just a man.  Solomon, the wise man of the Bible, had many wives, after all, but would his wisdom have allowed him to contemplate the virtues of permitting one of his wives to enjoy the same privilege?  

And if this arrangement was good enough for a king, then surely it’s good enough for the devout moral guardians of today.  Whatever keeps them in power and preserves the social order.  If that means making children feel shame for having sexual thoughts, then so be it.  If that means condemning women for making the choice to engage in sex work, then so be it.  If that means hounding gay and transgender youth to suicide, then so be it.  These guys will do anything to avoid talking about their own dishonesty, deceit, hypocrisy, and other far more damaging crimes.  Don’t let them get away with it.     

The people that earn a living through sex work, whether in person or online, do not owe anyone an apology or explanation. Sex is not bad. Sex work is not immoral. Customers of sex workers are not degenerates. Please remember this.

Excerpted from On Cam: