Visual Prostitutes Are The New Faces Of Sex Work

The first time I heard the term “E-thot” was on Twitter, where, for better or worse, memes spread like wildfire. I had made some commentary on the news of the day, though I can’t remember the exact story, and had promptly been told that the opinion of an “E-thot” like me was irrelevant.

By Lauren Chen3 min read

I may not have known what an E-thot was at the time, but from context, it was pretty clear it wasn’t a good thing. Fast forward through some intense Googling and a trip over to Reddit, and I gathered that the term “E-thot” is a variation of the word “thot,” which is an acronym for “that ho over there.” And in its most general sense, an “E-thot” refers to a woman who makes money online from male (or predominantly male) audiences.

An “E-thot” usually refers to a woman who makes money online from male (or predominantly male) audiences.

“E-thot” first applied to women like cam girls, who exchange pornographic videos or photos of themselves for payment. For the most part, these women are still the quintessential E-thots, but eventually, the term expanded to include any woman who a select group of men felt (whether correctly or not) was exploiting her looks in order to gain undeserved notoriety online. It is this category that I, as a female political and social commentator, apparently have the luck of belonging to.

My own personal experiences with this endearing term aside though, the phenomenon of E-thots does offer some insights into the culture of Millennials and Generation Z. And although this probably won’t surprise anyone, the news isn’t looking good for the status of relationships in our society, or gender relations in general.

Online Lust vs. Real Life Love

You see, in essence, E-thots are visual prostitutes who operate online. And although the utilization of the web may be a new innovation, prostitution itself is one of the oldest, if not the oldest profession around. So the idea that there are currently women using their bodies for commerce doesn’t necessarily say much about our society specifically, but the prevalence and widespread acceptance that the sphere now operates in is something new, and a change for the worse.

And before anyone accuses me of being a prude, let me acknowledge that sex is indeed an important part of life. We’re literally dependent on it for reproduction, and just as importantly, it allows husbands and wives to physically express their love for each other. In these ways, sex is a positive thing; however, it’s prevalence online, I’m afraid, has negative connotations for both those who view the pornographic material, as well as those who provide it.

We’re literally dependent on sex for reproduction, and it allows husbands and wives to physically express their love for each other.

Specifically, when it comes to reducing poverty, childhood delinquency, crime, and improving general well-being, healthy relationships and marriages are the backbone of society. But unfortunately, it’s not just fear mongering to say that pornography has real consequences on relationships. Couples who view porn are more likely to have relationship troubles, and one study found that pornography use could as much as double the likelihood of divorce in marriages.

And not only does the rise of E-thots spell trouble for existing relationships, but it could also be preventing connections from forming in the first place. One German study found that men who are 25-34 are now six times less likely to be married than in the 1970s, and concluded that “Traditionally, one of the reasons to enter into a marriage was sexual gratification. But as options for sexual gratification outside of marriage have grown, the need for a marriage to serve this function is diminishing.”

Of course, these statistics don’t mean that anyone who has ever watched an E-thot will either get divorced or be doomed never to marry. However, these trends are substantial enough that they, at the very least, challenge the “sex-positive” attitude that has led to this prevalence of pornography. And even for the E-thots themselves, studies that link sexually promiscuous behavior as both a cause and a result of mental and emotional health problems should give us pause before carelessly viewing the profession as a form of sexual empowerment.

The Pull of Celebrity Adoration

But what about the more run-of-the-mill, PG E-thots? The women who aren’t selling sexual images of themselves, but some say are still depending on their sex appeal for popularity?

On the one hand, attractive people, of either gender, have long garnered more attention than average looking people. (Hello, hot girl privilege.) Historical sex symbols like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, or going even further back, Helen of Troy and Queen Nefertiti of Egypt exemplify this. So again, the fact that currently the most successful people in industries like film, music, and news/commentary, tend to be good looking isn’t a novel concept.

On the other though, we live in a world where marriage rates are at an all-time low, and where social media now more than ever allows us to live vicariously online, and lets celebrities connect with their fans in a more intimate way than ever. With that in mind, perhaps it is a valid theory that some individuals, whether consciously or not, are drawn to public figures to satisfy longings that would otherwise be fulfilled by real-life partners. And likewise, it’s not unthinkable to believe that, either for financial and career gains, or to satisfy a need for adoration, some personalities might leverage the infatuation of their fans for popularity.

This isn’t to say that anyone who has managed to become successful in the age of social media is exploiting their sexuality and fans.

This isn’t to say that anyone who has managed to become successful in the age of social media is exploiting their sexuality and their fans, but it's understandable that that suspicion now exists.

The Solution: Unplug

Whether we’re discussing the rise of online pornography or the idea that comparatively untalented figures may become popular because their fans actually wish they were dating them, the solution to E-thots is clear: log off and live your life!

The draw of watching and performing in online voyeurism would be much weaker if we, as individuals and a society, were once again embracing the pursuit and cultivation of long-term, committed relationships. And similarly, maybe we wouldn’t all be clamoring to make the next online celebrity our fantasy beau or waifu if we were more focused and fulfilled by our real-life romantic prospects.

Closing Thoughts

The balance between the online and physical world is constantly changing the way that we, as humans, interact with each other, and as the continued rise of E-thots shows, the world of sex and relationships is no exception to that.