My name is Clementine, and I am a cam girl.
When I started camming—this was shortly after I turned 18—I hadn’t really watched other people cam before. I had a ton of friends who had done soft sex work, like Suicide Girl modeling or sugaring, but I never liked the idea of someone else telling me what to do and how to do it. I wanted everything to be my vision, i needed it. I come from a household where we were allowed to talk about porn, masturbation, sex and slut-shaming, and I knew that if I ever did sex work I would need everything to be entirely my vision. Although I could never tell my own mother that I get naked online, I like to think I’m still living by her morals: she has always encouraged me to love my body and be proud of it, and this is my way of doing just that.
I love myself now. I love seeing myself on the computer, and I like seeing myself as I pass by a mirror.
As children, our parents allow us to dress up in clothes that didn’t match our assigned gender, to get naked, to cover ourselves in paint. All of this stops as soon as sex enters our life: the body is essentially “pure” until sex—until intimacy. Although intimacy can be many things—holding hands, comforting each other, or cuddling—to most people it means sex, and to most people sex means inserting a penis into a vagina.
Camming is about redefining that intimacy. It’s about relearning what sex is, and what it looks like when sex is not exclusive to people who are straight and cisgender. When porn came into the mainstream, the actors didn’t have any choice over how things would look or what they could say or do. With camming it’s all up to you: you set up an aesthetic that others might find pleasing or vibe with; you get to put on a show you are comfortable with.
When I decided to start camming, I made up a character. She was bubbly, always positive, popular in high school —everything I’m not and will never be. I branded myself and played up all the bisexual stereotypes that hetrosexual cis men like. I have a ton of body insecurities since I do have a “ curvy” body and have always had bigger tits, and when I started camming I was able to get the validation that had proved so elusive up to that point: I got to try new outfits, lingerie and makeup; I got to rediscover myself, learning what I liked, what I didn’t, and where I needed to draw my lines to keep myself safe. I no longer had the same fears, I was someone else.
Despite all the personal development I’ve gotten out of camming, there’s no denying this is a job that makes it very difficult to carry relationships and friendships. After all, we live in a culture that puts sex work down, a culture that represses all of our desires. I lost a year-long relationship due to camming: they couldn’t handle it, and they didn’t like the idea of someone else seeing me naked, they felt entitled to my body. Which is a sad reality of a lot of relationships, this need to own your partner and that they can’t live their own life within their comfort. They didn’t understand that there is a ton more to camming than getting naked—in fact, that’s not even the most important part of it, at least not in my experience. But maybe that was the worst part for him: the knowledge that I was out there making emotional connections with others, that he wasn’t the only one I could care for.
That’s the thing about camming, after all: it’s so much more than just a means of sexual release. I personally deal with extreme depression that leaves me unable to work or meet new people, so the internet provided me with a chance to do both. Many of the people I cam for have illnesses that make it hard for them to go out and seek sexual stimulation or companionship, or they have personal problems that made it difficult to connect in real life. A lot of the time, my sessions with clients mostly involve talking about what’s going on in their lives—in other words, fostering a connection all human beings need and deserve.
It’s time for us as a society to embrace unconventional outlets for expressing our sexuality—whether that’s camming, BDSM, experimenting with your sexual preference, or something else entirely. Most people put off sexual energy to some degree, regardless of whether they choose to embrace it or keep it buried beneath the surface. But repression hurts you and whoever you’re getting jiggy with.
When I was 18, a high school classmate found my pictures online, and before long some of my friends did too. I wasn’t ashamed of my work, but others were, and it did ruin some of my relationships: my partner felt entitled to my body and saw it as his property; my friends lost respect for me. I eventually found a group of people who supported me and my job, but the fact remains that this business isn’t for the faint of heart. You have to find yourself before starting this job, you need to be okay with being found out, and—last but not least—you need to protect yourself.