Much has been written about how the Internet has been a boon for women trying to start small businesses (selling online much cheaper than running a brick & mortar store). In her article "Mistresses of Their Domain: How Female Entrepreneurs in Cyberporn Are Initiating a Gender Power Shift," CyberPsyschology & Behavior, Vol. 3, No. 5, 2000, Kimberlianne Podlas raises the question of whether the opportunity to run one’s own porn site on the web provides women sex workers with similar advantages. Women owners of cybersex web sites interviewed by Podlas reported that their earnings had increased, they had greater control over their hours of work, and their conditions of work were much safer and more pleasant.
Regardless of increased earnings and safety, not all feminists would see the growth of women operating sex sites as liberating. As one student noted, activists like Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin would see all web sites where women perform sexually for the gratification of men as inherently oppressive, whether owned by women or men.
We also looked at an article describing the perspectives of African-American women porn site owners. The women interviewed felt that an important advantage of owning their own web site was the ability to control the images of themselves – to decide exactly how they would be photographed (in contrast to how Black women and other women of color are often portrayed on the most visited cybersex web sites). Like the women in Podlas’ study, these Black women also appreciated the opportunity to work in safe, indoor conditions and the possibility of better earnings. However, the article pointed out that women of color acting in porn films are generally paid half to three-quarters of what their white counterparts earn and that the Black women porn site owners were not necessarily getting rich because there is stiff competition in this industry.
For a more in-depth look at how one woman became involved in running her own cybersex web site – how she got started, her developing technological skills, what her customers pay to view, and the growth in her earnings to an estimated $90,000 per year - we can read a lengthy interview with Becca of Kentucky. I was interested to note that the link to her web site, provided in this 1999 article, still works in 2009 – indicative of a long and financially rewarding career.