Basic story: A sex-worker/blogger writing under the name Alexa DiCarlo is getting some serious shit over stealing a soft-core porn performers pics to posting as her own and possibly not being an actual sex worker. Everyone is scrambling to point fingers and figure out the real identity of Alexa DiCarlo. She claimed in her posts to be studying in my graduate program (Sexuality Studies at SF State) and seems to have lifted information from the department profile of a fellow male graduate student.
For the record: there is no way this person is affiliated with my department. She knows a fair amount about sexuality studies but she constructed a syllabus of the History of Sexuality without including writings from Michel Foucault [Thanks Zoey for the cache link to Alexa's syllabus post]. History of Sexuality: An Introduction is one of the first sexual theory texts first year students read. No-one would leave Michel Foucault out of a basic sexuality reading list. This is tantamount to discussing the history of social labor movements without reading Karl Marx. Fail lady, fail.
I don’t know who this person is and the only thing I care about is that she is falsely claiming intellectual territory in Sexuality Studies at my university. Back off. Go fake yourself a life somewhere else.
What fascinates me is the myriad of ways humans behave behind the curtain of internet anonymity. We are free to create entire lives for ourselves, either wrought from our own imaginations or pieced together with the plundered bits of others. Game worlds like Second Life exist for this very indulgence. Create yourself without limits.
Oddly, we tend to represent ourselves accurately on our internet profiles. This is one reason for the major backlash against writers like Alexa DiCarlo or even James Frey. We feel affronted when we accept another’s lie as truth.
Authenticity is important in our world, but especially important with sex. Transmen and especially transwomen discuss fears of others “outing” them. Gwen Araujo murderers defended their horrific actions by claiming a her “misrepresentation” caused their blind violent rage. A student who is a transgirl expressed this fear by saying, “Before I have my surgery I have to tell everyone I’m not really a girl. I don’t want to end up dead because people think I lied.”
The blogger shitstorm surrounding Alexa centers, in part, around her inauthentic sex worker claims. Other sex workers are angry that she appropriated another sex worker’s photographs and posted them as her own. Hence the term “faux ho”.
I admit that I would never devote so much energy into creating a false online persona. But I am sure many of us, at some point, indulged in fake sexual selves online. When I was 13 I used the internet for two things: 1) ordering bootleg tapes of my favorite performers and 2) engaging in cyber sex.
I never masturbated while cybering. The thought did not cross my mind. My delight came from the seemingly consequence-free playtime and sexual exploration. On IRCs I could play sexual hide and seek, touch other people, take off my clothes and nothing bad could happen to me. Everything prohibited in the real world was mine to experience online. No cultural prohibitions could restrain my sexual imagination.
In this light, maybe Alexa deserves a bit of sympathy because she may be engaging in games of self-invention that everyone else likes to play. She’s just really, really committed to that fantasy.