We must always keep this sentiment in the back of our heads: anybody that works multiple jobs to make ends meet has the right to privacy.
Many of us know that OnlyFans exploded in popularity during the pandemic. As a content subscription-based platform that allows influencers and other creators to monetize what they put on the platform, OnlyFans is primarily used by people who work in the sex industry. They post racy content on their feeds in exchange for a monthly subscription fee that they set for themselves.
One of those people happened to be Lauren Kwei, a 23-year-old paramedic based in New York City who posted on the platform to supplement her current income.
Many Americans are juggling more than one job to sustain themselves, especially given the dire financial circumstances people have faced this year.
I feel not only should she be celebrated for not giving up, but better yet people should redirect their critical energy to instead understand why some healthcare workers need to hold more than one job during the pandemic.
The New York Post, who initially wrote about Kwei, revealed photos, social media handles, and the personal details about her job. After the article was published, Kwei explained in comments from her GoFundMe that she asked the reporter to anonymize her because she felt that the article could put her safety and job in jeopardy. Unfortunately, she is now dealing with the very thing she was worried about from the beginning: the potential loss of a job and threats to her safety.
"When [reporter] first "interviewed" me, he did not tell me what this was about until after I disclosed most of my background. He did not include in his article that I started crying on the phone when he finally did tell me what he was inquiring about. He did not include that he played this "friendly guy" reporter who just wanted to get MY side of the story since ya know, they were gonna run it anyway, with or without my input."
It's instances like this that make people so distrusting of the media.
Her comment continues to add context about where she comes from, her journey of getting through paramedic school while supporting herself with many minimum-wage jobs, and who she is as a person. She also noted how difficult life has been working as an EMT in New York City during the pandemic.
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We must realize that again, she didn't owe us anything by sharing these aspects of her life, nor should it be necessary for people to criticize her. Shaming sex workers is definitely violent, and no one should have to defend themselves as human beings who deserve respect.
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The mere fact that she shared this information about herself is a gift to the community. She's using the very destructive spotlight placed on her to ask for support for medical professionals during this trying time.
She also brought attention to mental health among frontline healthcare workers, saying that they're reusing months old PPE, refused hazard pay, and watching their fellow healthcare workers die right before their eyes from COVID and suicide.
Towards the end of her post, she provided information about the Emergency Medical Services Public Advocacy Council to learn how to help people serving as EMTs.
I have a lot of respect for people who take a stance like this because I think about my mom, who is also on the front line as a nurse, and the many heartbreaking things she had witnessed on her unit due to the state of the world.
In highlighting the medical community's needs when society needs their help more than ever, it has become evident that the real scandal is not the one that the Post conjured up.
To be honest, that's not even where the focus needs to be. There is nothing wrong with having an OnlyFans or being a sex worker. The real issue here is that an emergency health care worker who is a servant to the community can't afford to have a proper livelihood from one income alone, even though they have a significant role in helping others during these frightening times.
Despite this, we must always keep this sentiment in the back of our heads: anybody that works multiple jobs to make ends meet has the right to privacy. Shaming people for that is strange, especially if they are not mentally or physically harming anyone. Unless they have poor ethics and are hell-bent on ruining someone's life, a woman's at that is when it becomes concerning.
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