The cam girl phenomena

Posted: August 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

Amy Dobson’s article, “Femininities as Commodities: Cam Girl Culture” looks at the online phenomena of “cam girls” which is a type of site that “are typically of personal, amateur web site focused on a web cam that allows viewers to see live, moving images of the site owner”. Although Dobson notes that are is such a thing as cam boys, the vast majority of the cam girl demographic is teen girls and young women from thirteen to twenty-five years of age.

 

Cam girls can help lead to the understanding of how women are portrayed on the internet and how femininity is represented through these sites. The ability to use the internet to reach out to unlimited viewers allows these women to “see their feminine image as a tool to be used towards the goals of economic and social success, power and self actualization”. Cam girls use these sites to receive gifts from visitors that they can set up through their “wish lists”. Dobson notes, that many cam girls have admitted how much a girl receives is based on “her looks and the type of images she displays”. Through cam girls we see women exercising their own agency on how they are represented on the internet. It is up to them what photos they post and the style of photos they wish to post as well. Or is it?

 

Dobson labels the type of cam girls into three categories: the cam girl (the girl next door), the cam whore (sexually insatiable) and the cam artist (creative and sexual).  By representing themselves in these categories Dobson feels that the struggle against the female gender stereotype is no longer relevant as women are playing into these stereotypes to receive material items. In a new discourse of power we see women using these stereotypes to promote a “girl power” attitude towards young women. By being able to control, promote and use their beauty to gain material wealth women are embracing what was once patronized modes of acting.  However, the women are in complete control of the images, words and the extent to which they post. Dobson points that it is by “exploiting notions of girlhood and femininity” that these girls are partaking in the consumer culture. They are able to use their bodies as a commodity to get what they want. On the other hand the girls are aware that the success that they have is entirely based on “how far” they are willing to go in photos, how explicate they can be, and their overall looks in general. Due to this the notion, the argument that cam girls do not have complete control over their own agency can be seen. If their success is measured by how sexual and attractive they can be, then of course the girls are being sheppard into these categories Dobson made of cam girls, ones in which that they may not be entirely comfortable with.

 

Cam girls are not only using these sites for obtaining commodities, they are using it to blog, write about their friends and days and to post photos of their fun daily activities. The more glamourous their life seems the more they are able to maintain a following, gaining popularity. I would argue that they are given the ability to practice alternate identities and try on different performances of self through the experience of being a cam girl. They do not have to blog and post about all the depressing, messy instances of life, but can create an identity in which they can pick and choose what is shared and representative of their lives. What makes this a phenomena is how obsessed people become with following these blogs and daily activities of these cam girls. Their lives not only offer and place of escapism for themselves, but for countless other females (and males) who are looking to experiment with their own identities and end up making celebrities of these girls who they chose to idealize. Looking back the demographic of women who are partaking in the cam girl phenomena it makes sense that the age group is thirteen to twenty five, because it is a prime time in self exploration and shaping of identity for a young woman. The male attention that the female viewers witness these cam girls receiving provides them with notions on how to play with their own gender and sexuality in an attempt to replicate the images and projections of beauty they see in the lives of the cam girls.

 

– bonny m

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