When sexuality and capitalism get married

This post was first shared in September 2023 from Juneau, Alaska as part of my monthly love-letter series. 

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September 10, 2023

—From My Heart to Yours—

Well well well, what do we have here? A September love letter I hear!

It’s officially September, a month that is neither summer or fall. I am 10 days late once more in writing to you, my sweets. It took me many days to write this letter. Perhaps in the coming paragraphs you’ll understand why. When I sat down to write, I opened myself up and this love letter poured out. It’s different from letters past. 

I begin writing to you from the back of my van as I intermittently take bites of my leftover Jambalaya and hush puppy lunch. Yum.

MoMo is working on a beef pizzle (did you know that’s what they call beef penis dog chews!?), and Shane is lying beside me reading. We’re in line waiting for the ferry that will take us from Whidbey Island to Port Townsend, Washington. We’ve been waiting for 4 hours as we didn’t make reservations and have to ride standby. This is a huge perk of having the van. We feel like cool kids that we get to just hang out in our little home on wheels. 

Last I wrote to you, I was describing the tidal wave of company that Shane and I received in the month of July. August was a copy and paste of that but with different faces.

My mom and step-dad were here for 10 days at the beginning of the month, and then my dad and step-mom were here for 6 days immediately following them. We had so much fun. I went to nearly every single thrift, consignment, antique, and resale shop with my mom and step-mom, and found some wonderful treasures!

I’ve been downsizing mine and Shane’s wardrobes so we both only own pieces we regularly use and wear. As such, I’ve been selling and donating lots of my clothing and housewares. This is my poshmark account if you want to check out what I’m selling! My mom is basically Poshmark famous (which is hilarious to me), so if you want to see her store too, you can see that here.

Truth be told, something big is happening in mine and Shane’s life, but I don’t want to say it yet until it’s OFFICIALLY official. Lots of my time and energy was spent focused on that thing this month. I will be able to share it with you in October’s love letter, so be on the lookout! Ahhh! I can’t wait to tell you.

Capitalism and sexuality

As I head toward my 31st birthday (October 14), I’m feeling very much in awe of life. I’m more and more in devotion to the concepts of surrender and letting go. With each passing day, I become softer with my heart. So often, my life doesn’t make logical sense to me (or anyone else…lol). It takes effortless effort to just be with my body — in this interesting spaciousness that we call the human experience. 

This past week, I went through my Instagram and I looked at my photos and my captions from a few years ago before I frantically archived them. I cannot believe how much my inside world has evolved and how much my views on sex and sexuality have changed over the past two years. When I first began @ShewolfLauren, I spoke so bluntly about sex and sexuality. I was a baby to the sex-education space and I enjoyed the shock factor of many of the pieces I’d write and topics I’d discuss.  If you’ve been following me for a few years, perhaps you’ve noticed a shift in the way I write, and how I show up online. So much of what I thought I knew is no longer what I know to be true.

I’ve written the following piece as an op-ed of sorts about my repulsion toward our society’s marriage of sexuality and capitalism through social media and sites like OnlyFans as of late. I’m concerned about the general direction of the sex-positivity scene I’m seeing online. It’s misaligned with the heart and the sacredness of our sexual energy.

If I had read the sentence I just wrote above two years ago, I would have rolled my eyes and checked my bio to see if I was a right-wing Christian evangelist. Let me be clear, I’m not. I am a woman, however, who was once swept up in the influencer scene and in a world where it was the norm to use every aspect of my life—including my sexuality—as a way to make money.

Influencer shmincuencer

I don’t think it was possible to truly understand the hold social media “influencing” had on me until I somehow arrived on the other side of its grasp. I began my Instagram account in 2016 at 24 years old. Instagram influencing was just becoming popular, and I quickly grew my following to 10k by posting photos of myself scantily clad with messages about veganism. I remember doing my first few photo shoots in Houston, Texas and feeling nervous but excited to explore this new avenue. I thought maybe it was my way to find fame and fortune.

Over time, my following continued to grow, and my obsession with taking photos of myself “in the name of veganism” grew too. I knew other women who were making lots of money off businesses they’d started as a natural progression of their influencing, but I could never quite figure out the product to push or the avenue to take to get a truly profitable business off the ground. But I kept posting. For years.

Along the way, I found myself so incredibly and nearly irreconcilably obsessed with my appearance and other people’s perceptions of me as I grew this big identity around being cool and important and valuable because other people liked my photos and engaged with my “content”. My followers grew. My ego grew too. 

I remember once during my original vanlife phase in 2018, my mom flew to meet me in Canada so we could explore Banff together. It pains me to recount how hyper focused I was on getting the right shot of myself in front of Lake Victoria looking hot. I barely even enjoyed myself (and probably ruined my mom’s day) by getting mad at her for not being able to “see the angles I needed.” Although we still had a very fun trip together, I feel terrible for the way I acted. Embarrassingly, I subjected my sister, my friends, and my fiance to these ridiculous demands on more occasions than I’d like to admit. I know that with the rise of TikTok and other sites, I’m not the only one who has treated my loved ones like they should be experienced paparazzi. Although this may seem innocent, this kind of laser focus on how we’ll perfectly package and share our experiences with others keeps us out of the moment completely.

A journey to online sex work

Eventually, it felt stupid to have this big (at the time) following, and not be making any money from it. It was now late 2019, and I was in a relationship with a man who’s sexual desires were far from traditional. Our relationship was a very open one and I was living a lifestyle that was not fulfilling my soul. I had quit my job as a communication professor and was teetering on the edge of a quarter-life-meltdown. I shaved my head. I frequented sex parties and swinger clubs.

As I searched for a way to make my mark on the world, sex became something totally separated from my heart. It became something I just did with my body in an often performative and dissociative way. I had sex to prove to myself and others that I was open to alternative lifestyles. I had sex with people I knew for 5 minutes so I wasn’t just talking the talk. I was walking the walk, baby. 

Right around this time, OnlyFans erupted on Instagram. A new platform for “self-expression” that my friend was making absolute bank on. I decided after some consideration that it was the way I could finally monetize my Instagram. All those years of posing sexily online wouldn’t be for nothing if I could make money by funneling people to this other platform.

I created my OnlyFans account and put all my eggs in that basket. I hired photographers. I paid for photoshoots, bought all the sexy clothes, and posted there several times a day for 6 months straight.

My family, while trying their best to be supportive, absolutely lost their minds. Their devastation fueled my decisions in the direction opposite theirs.

I used to make the argument that if I could make money from being hot and sharing my sexuality, it would be stupid not to. I’d say that lots of people use their bodies to make money: Construction workers, yoga teachers, circus artists, and really anyone that has a body and goes to work. I’d say that sex work is liberating, and that getting paid to be sexual made me feel good. I’d say sex work is the oldest profession and that there’s nothing more conservative and close-minded than a person who can’t recognize the feminism in sex work. I’d say that the media has been making money off women’s sexuality for years, why shouldn’t I take matters into my own hands and make money from my own sexuality? I’d suggest that people were hypocrites if they watched porn but were concerned about what I was doing.

There was nothing anyone could say to change my mind. I was hell bent. And I had lots of feminist literature backing me up. I had convinced myself that sharing my sexuality with the internet was empowering.

Trouble in sexually liberated paradise

Even though it’s hard to poke holes in my aforementioned logic, I can assure you that using my sexuality as a tool to make money and prove some kind of empowering feminist point damaged my heart. It hurt my spirit. It hardened me to the world. It hardened me to the potential softness and delicacy of my sexual energy. I saw men as piggy banks. I thought that I should be paid just for having feet or having a shaved head. On OnlyFans and beyond, every aspect of my life became a vehicle for monetization. I had sex with something to prove. With the intention to write a blog about it. With a story to tell. I grew more and more distanced from my true sexual needs, from the need for connection, safety, and mutual respect. 

I don’t regret my choices, and I don’t deny how much I learned about myself through sex work, but I wish I had considered the spiritual toll it could take to intertwine my sexuality with capitalism. When we intertwine our most sacred and vulnerable energy with an economic system designed to use us, chew us up and spit us out — we have trouble in “sexually liberated” paradise.

I’m sure there are people who can somehow separate themselves from the person they portray online, but I am not one of those people. I truly don’t think many women are. Sex work used to be mostly reserved for women who found themselves in a position without other choices. Often, sex work was for survival. Now, sex work—particularly online/influencer sex work— is a frequent and common choice over other options because she’ll make more money doing it.

Her value as a young woman is then tied to her attractiveness and sexual output at a young age, and thus to how much money that sexual output can make her. When we’re paid to be hot and sexual as young twenty somethings, and we open ourselves to the flood of (mostly) male sexual demands, one can’t help but to ingest the vile side of sex that most of us would hope to avoid. Work (often important and valuable work) like sexual surrogacy, erotic massage, and various other forms of in-person sex work are still heavily criminalized. Meanwhile, we encourage young women to be as hypersexual as possible online all day every day and pay them loads of money for it. Something isn’t right here.

An issue that spans beyond OnlyFans

Aspects of sex work and sharing our sexual experiences online through writing, podcasting, and the like can absolutely be empowering, even healing. It is also the case that for many women, there are deep and lasting harmful effects of sharing precious sexual energy with so many onlookers. When we mix an elevated sense of self-importance (through social media influence), shitloads of money, and sexuality up in the same cauldron, we have a recipe for a certain kind of despair that’s incredibly difficult to navigate away from. Right now, this particular mixture is the hot girl thing to do. It’s normal and common for all the “hot girls” to also be getting paid for sexual content. We don’t even blink an eye at this. I too was bamboozled by a society that tells us if it isn’t hypersexual, it isn’t worthy of attention. I too thought making money off my body and sexual energy was awesome and empowering. I can now say with confidence that although I thought that, my body did not feel that way. It has taken me years of concentrated work to untangle an intricately woven web of sexual confusion. 

By nature, we crave to marry love with sexuality and sexuality with divinity. We don’t, as children, desire to get paid for being hot and sexually desirable. This is something that an ill society —full of hypersexuality but lacking in deep understanding and reverence for sexual energetics— teaches us is a good and highly valuable choice. 

We, as the consumers of content have a responsibility to decide where to put our time and attention. We, as the content consumers are so out of touch with nature, our bodies, and the magic of being alive that we spend hours and hours, days and days, thousands and thousands of dollars to scroll through hypersexualized content. We clap for financial success so much that we tell women that sex work is an incredible choice for them so long as they make bank doing it. (We don’t say the same thing to street sex workers by the way, but that’s a conversation for a different time.)

The heart, the body

This cultural issue runs deeper than just specifically online/influencer-sex work. Sex work or not, we’re encouraging people to videotape and post about virtually every aspect of their lives. Pulling out their cameras to do their make-up, to eat a midnight snack, to make food with their friends. Influencers are taking us into their therapy sessions, making POV videos about their recent post-divorce glow-up, taking selfies and videos of themselves crying and “releasing trauma”. The people who do this may say that it’s in the spirit of authentic expression, and being real for their followers. To the contrary, I’d argue that this kind of sharing is more in line with self-obsession than authenticity. And again, IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT necessarily. We, the content consumers, are demanding it. We’ve made a massive market for it. We clap for the people who are the most consistently available for our viewership. 

We’re more disconnected with our bodies than ever before. We’re more depressed, more unhealthy, more medicated, and more screen attached. As a society, we are hurting and we’re veering further and further away from heart centric living. From LOVE centric living. Not just in the ways that are obvious. But in ways that are not obvious at all. The only reason influencing and monetization to this degree is possible is because we’re all mindlessly choosing to be influenced to buy more crap we don’t need, download more apps, masturbate to more content, spend more time wandering down bottomless online rabbit holes.

Men pay thousands of dollars to jack off to an internet model and then wonder why they can’t stay hard during in-person sex or sustain meaningful relationships. Women are turning to injections, butt lifts, lipo, and every imaginable physical alteration under the sun and for WHAT?! So she can remain sexually desirable until the day she dies? I’m not here for it.

We’ve become a world of hyper-stimulation and instant gratification instead of a world where working with our hands, tilling to the earth, having meaningful relationships, and growing wise is held in the highest regard. Instead, the person with the most followers and a hot body is now a guru for young women wanting to feel confident. I’ve personally benefited from this in the past, and I simply cannot help but to mention how concerned I am about it today.

A different way

I think a LOT of the new age conversation around sex-positivity is grossly misaligned with a heart-centered life. I used to contribute to the conversation. I didn’t know what I know now. I didn’t realize how sacred sexual energy is and how important it is to harness it and hold it close to our hearts. The more I see about one-night stands, droves of young women turning to Only Fans, selfishness, vanity, and choking, slapping, and degrading as the norm, I worry that we will no longer know how to connect to love. How to connect to our hearts.

I don’t hate social media; it’s not social media’s fault. We have a responsibility as social media users. We can only look ourselves in the mirror and ask uncomfortable questions: Where am I directing my energy each day? What do I value? Are my actions in alignment with what I value? What am I living for? What do I seek to know about myself? 

I love the me that was a bull in a china shop talking about blow jobs and dirty talking. She was awesome and she was a renegade of sorts. And she was lost and searching. Maybe that’s where we’re at as a society too. Lost and searching. I love that version of me and I choose to love this version of society too. But that doesn’t mean I agree with the direction we’re headed.

By some miracle from above, I was able to turn my attention inward on myself rather than focusing outwardly on what the internet thought of me. I believe that if I was able to find the sacred in my sexuality, anyone can.

When I looked back at those photos of myself on Instagram from just two years ago, I didn’t recognize myself. I actually could not believe the photos I posted and what words I wrote. All of that got me here though, writing to you, and so I am grateful for every corner I explored–both dark and light.

I have no doubt that my life was destined to be one of sexual exploration. Sex has fascinated me and consumed many of my thoughts from a young age. I hope what I’ve written doesn’t read as me shaming or judging sex work of any kind. It was my attempt to comment on a the hypersexualization of our sacred sexual energy and the subsequent harmful marriage of that hypersexualization with capitalism. 

Our lives are so valuable and it’s special and rare to be alive as a human at this particular time in history. It’s my calling to talk about the sacred experience of being alive. To guide others back into their bodies and into alignment with their hearts. This includes our sexuality. Our sexuality is sacred. It’s sacred the moment we decide to claim it as such.

My book on Sacred Sexuality

Hi ho hi ho! To editing we go! I’m currently combing through the book I’ve written for consistency and flow before I send to a professional editor! I’m so excited to be in this phase and I cannot wait to share my work with you.

Although I’ve majorly cut back on taking clients as I write this sacred sexuality book, I have one space for my 8-week teaching/mentorship container. I guide clients in coming home to themselves both in and out of the bedroom. I’ve recently adapted the investment and my container to reflect current times. If you’re interested in working with me, please send me an e-mail to info@shewolflauren.com. I’d love to hear what kind of support you’re searching for.

What I’m currently reading: 

I began reading just yesterday a book titled Love: What Life is All About by Dr. Leo Buscaglia. I got about 1/2 way through it and I love that the book was written in 1970 during a time when love wasn’t considered much of an academic subject. Buscaglia wrote the book after creating a Class on Love at USC. The way he writes is so enthusiastic and I really appreciate the way he curiously explores what love is and what love isn’t. I’m excited to finish it.

What I’m thinking about:

Honestly? I’m thinking about what I’ll have for dinner after I send this letter to you. I’m between Thai drunken noodles, Vietnamese pho, or Southern Chinese/Japanese ramen. Luckily, I don’t think I can go wrong. Wish me luck!

Before I go,

I am having such an aversion to all things polyester, nylon, lycra, etc! I went down some rabbit holes and cannot believe how many micro-plastics and how much crap we’re constantly surrounded by and consuming. I know I’m late to the commenting on fast fashion game, but WOW. This consumption overload and access is truly no-bueno. I’m switching out all we own to organic fibers, and mostly second hand. It’s so much fun, and I’m really obsessed with making my home and environment as sustainable and long-lasting as possible.

Silk, leather, wool, organic cotton, are where it’s at. When you consider getting these higher end items second hand (via sites like poshmark or thrifting) and price them as cost per wear, it’s clear that natural fibers take the cake every time. Unless of course, you’re purchasing a rain jacket or something. 

p.s. You have not lived until you’ve worn merino wool socks!

In gratitude,

Thank you thank you thank you for being here! When you read these love letters, you support my heart language — writing. I’d love to hear your feedback and comments on this month’s letter as I know it was different from letters past. I also have slowly posted my previous month’s love letters on my blog. I’d be grateful if you share my work with those you love.

~

I love you,

-Lauren

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