I’d been camming for a few months and feeling like I was getting pretty good at it. But then one night, a regular came into my room. He’d always been totally nice before, but out of nowhere, he started saying a ton of rude things about me—my hair, my voice, my room, everything! A few days later, he came back and was super mean again. I ended up having to block him. Ever since then, I’ve lost my confidence. Every time I’m supposed to get online, I get so stressed out. Help!
Let’s see what we can do to get your groove back.
Dealing with negative comments is hard enough in any job, but in sex work, it can’t get any more personal. For whatever reason, there are fans out there who feel entitled to say things that IRL would be way out of line.
When somebody says something that’s hard to hear, we need to take a few steps back, understand what’s being said, take what’s useful, and then do whatever is necessary to take care of ourselves. Let’s walk through this step by step.
Useful or Abuse-ful?
The very first thing to determine is the intent of what’s being said. If someone is being hateful, even if they just think they’re being funny or they’re “not all there” (read: inebriated in some way), cut them off completely. You are under zero obligation to let garbage behavior into your life.
Oftentimes, however, the cruelest cuts in sex work aren’t deliberate or direct, but throwaway insults. Someone is just careless, not giving any thought to how their words might sound. If someone seems oblivious, it’s okay to say, “Hey, when you talk about [fill-in-the-blank] like that, it makes me think you don’t respect me. Is that really what you meant?” Most of the time, people will realize the misunderstanding and apologize, and you can get on with your sexy fun. If they don’t, well, that reaction is useful, too. You can use that information to decide whether that’s a fireable offense or if they’re worth keeping around.
Find What’s Constructive in the Criticism
A lot of people just don’t have any tact when they’re aroused, discombobulated, or don’t know the rules — states of mind which often apply to cam fans.
If someone offers a harsh opinion—“Your lighting sucks!”—here’s one way to process that comment. Try adding: “I think you’re awesome, you’re my total favorite, I really want to see you succeed, but there’s just one thing I would improve…” in front of it. If that sentence makes sense—and stings a little less—take it as constructive criticism. Sure, it’d be nice if everyone were thoughtful all the time, but rather than absorbing hurtful comments as poison, isn’t it a whole lot better to find the nugget of what’s useful, discard the rest and walk away stronger?
Opinions Aren’t Facts
When someone insults the core of who we are—our looks, our weight, the sound of our voice—there’s no way to spin that as helpful or kind. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but an important skill to master: Other people’s opinions aren’t truth, just information.
When that happens, remember this: There is no universal standard of what’s alluring or attractive—there is literally not a single person alive who is universally loved, admired or desired. Whatever you’ve got, there will always be fans who think you’re smoking hot, and you’ll leave others cold. There is no use agonizing over it. And that does nothing to change the indisputable fact that you are gorgeous/hot/fun/good at your job just as you are. Let them move along and find what they’re looking for somewhere else.
Take Care of Yourself
As young people, when someone knocks us down, adults may scoop us up, give us a hug and put a band-aid on the boo-boo. As grown ups, it’s important to do the same kind of self-care when our egos have been wounded.
My advice, other than blocking him the minute he became abusive, is to take some time to acknowledge how his comments felt. Then comfort yourself. You deserve to have someone bear witness to your pain, and say what you need to hear in order to feel better. Sometimes, that person has to be you.
Say these words (or your own) out loud: “Wow—ouch. That really hurt. I don’t know what his problem was, but guys like him don’t get to be in my room. I put on an excellent show, and from now on, I’m only going to let fans who appreciate me stick around.”
Not-so-nice comments are always going to be a part of camming. Learning to tune out the nonsense and grow from what’s left makes us stronger in the long run.
Until next time, be sweet to yourself.
Lola Davina is a longtime veteran of the sex industry and author of Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry, a self-help book for sex workers now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and wherever else ebooks are sold. Contact her at Lola.Davina@ynotcam.com and visit her on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.
Image of Lola Davina courtesy Pat Mazzera.