It was another day on the Internet, and White Orchid knew what she had to do. As she sat there in her bedroom in West Oakland, fresh off a flight from Las Vegas with her sugar daddy, checking in on whatever online chaos she had missed out on while dolled up and drunk in Las Vegas. Ah, yes, this new fuckery: the incels are reporting premium SnapChats to the IRS today.
White Orchid had weathered this kind of bullshit before. It’s 2018, and whorephobia has been peaking in a new and unexpected way: via the Internet. When White Orchid was growing up, the Internet was a far cry from what it is today. The Internet was Wild 94.9 chat rooms, MySpace top 8 drama, and tinged with the slight promise of anarchism and rebellion. But in 2018, the Internet had become less like the movie Hackers and more like an echo chamber of dystopia. The Internet was less a place to bring down the system and more a free for all for the rabid ideologies of fringe fascists. But you already knew that.
Upon reading the news that the incels had banded together to create a fever storm of hysteria around reporting premium SnapChats, White Orchid felt the same disdain that seemed to accompany all the other similar news that attacked her profession. This kind of news had become so common that she barely knew how to react to it anymore. There was certainly nothing shocking about it. It was merely another disappointment in a long line of disappointments.
News like this wasn’t unfamiliar. Even if trying to use the IRS as a weapon against sex workers was, as a tactic, fairly pathetic, the baseline whorephobia (which, in this moment, seemed to have grown beyond the quite roil it usually maintained beneath society and become a more publicly tangible incel rebellion) was cause for alarm. The actual threat of auditing seemed to be a bit unrealistic, especially given the amount of information that was required on that IRS form (no one’s using their real name or giving out their actual addresses or any other pertinent information), as well as the fact that the IRS cap for untaxable gifts had been set at $15,000 for 2018, and also PayPal generally doesn’t report income to the IRS if it’s less than $20,000 or fewer than 200 transactions in a year. White Orchid knew that her johns knew this – she’s good at her job, and she was lucky to be able to cultivate mutual relationships with her johns as her primary income. Cash is king, and White Orchid is queen.
Even though White Orchid knew she would be fine, she also knew that information is not the strongest weapon in the war between thots and incels – hysteria is. And right now the incels are controlling the narrative of hysteria. It’s moment like these when White Orchid wonders if wading into the trenches of comment threads and shit posting incels is really worth it. Because if this is a war, than anyone in the comment threads is a foot soldier, and foot soldiers are the ones who die first. Generals, however, are untouchable. So how do you shoot a general in the head?
The war between thots and incels is one that has boiled over in the last year or so. Sure, sex work has never been safe, but battles from previous years (such as PayPal freezing workers’ accounts) seemed tame compared to the hell storm of ire in the face of the incel war and SESTA/FOSTA. The male rage against women’s bodily autonomy seems to know no bounds these days, seeping into tech policies and federal laws and online meme wars. If sex workers aren’t safe, who is?
White Orchid couldn’t help but think: Where are the johns? Where are the men who love me? Where are the men with their high paying jobs and their access to power now? They’re absent, as usual, until, of course, it comes time for them to cheat on their wives and get their dicks wet. These secretive johns, who rub shoulders with people who can change the world, yet here they are in a walking hibernation of weakness, mute and inactive in the face of losing…us.
Guess this is what happens when a sex worker is the face of derailing a presidency. This is what we get when we are heroes. This is what we get when any asshole with a WiFi connection realizes that the Internet is a free for all platform for any wild thought that comes to his mind. We were never going to win this war unopposed – one can only hope that this is the death rattle, the last ditch effort of a soon to be extinct species.
With her last sip of wine, White Orchid realized: she wasn’t having it. She was sick of always being on the defense, especially in the face of men whose main rallying point was a shared inability to get laid. The sickness in this society is starting to rot away any last vestiges of hope and beauty, but there’s still a reason to fight. Isn’t there?
We are an army, too. White Orchid thought. And it’s time to get offensive on their asses. In a world of chaos, what’s the best way to win? Infiltration, of course.
The thing about this war is: it has always been going on. Before the Internet, before incels, before SnapChat, before Trump. White Orchid was born fighting this war, because she was born a woman, and she was born poor, and she wasn’t born white. That’s how society works: it is at war with you, always, and in different ways. But the thing about society is – it is defined by the people who built it and inhabit it, so to be at war with society is to be at war with some faceless, amalgamated enemy at all times. To be at war is to know that the people you fight are standing right besides you, in line at the grocery star, on the bus, next to you at the bar. The fight is constant, and it is invisible. Which makes it a tricky battle to fight, but after doing it for years – well, it doesn’t become easy, but it does become manageable.
The thing about the incels is – they will never win the game of charisma. On some days they might be louder than others, and on some days they might be more clever than the day before, and sometimes their chaos reaches new peaks. But the war of chaos is a zero sum war – no matter how loud, or clever, or chaotic they are, they will never win. No one will ever win.
This war isn’t being fought in the comment threads. This war is being fought in fine print – the type of fine print that you don’t read in the terms of the apps you use, fine print in addenda and articles in uninteresting legal documents, fine print in business contracts signed by business people who make deals that you and I will never hear of.
White Orchid knew this. Which is why White Orchid closed her computer and logged off the comment threads. The hysteria of the online world makes for interesting headlines, but public opinion can’t be swayed by something that the public never sees. So, kill it.
The freedom of speech is a whimsical marketplace and a lofty ideal, but the freedom of press is the one that matters more. Freedom of speech implies that whoever has the loudest opinion will be heard most clearly, but freedom of press dictates that whichever outlet can win the hearts and minds of readers is the one that matters most. Which means that the question has to be asked: when did the world stop loving women? Sure, maybe the world never loved women, but there used to be this idea that a woman was worthy of love.
Which is why we need infiltration. Which is what White Orchid had been working on all along: a more seductive narrative. A narrative so beautiful that it could kill every other narrative. It’s true, people are sick of being sold lies over and over again. But just because something is ugly doesn’t mean it’s true, and just because something is sensational doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The goal here isn’t to preach to the choir. The goal is to win hearts and minds.
White Orchid knew why these men feared feminism. Because what if every woman could be like White Orchid. Over the years, White Orchid had accumulated friends across various social strata. The point of those friendships was to create an impenetrable network of female solidarity, to invest in other women’s futures in order to elevate everyone within the network, and to gain influence across different echelons of society in order to build power in tandem with other women. It was the simple idea of diversification and infiltration, although it did require a considerable time investment. Hearts and minds, ladies. Hearts and minds.
White Orchid knew that in order to win the hearts and minds of other people, she had to win the hearts and minds of people like herself first. This is where the feminism comes in – when White Orchid started her nameless network, At first, the other women like White Orchid were angry. It was an insidious anger – one that came from outside of themselves and, once they had become infected with that anger, they aimed it inwards at themselves. Or, as we know it now: internalized misogyny. It was the first hurdle that White Orchid had faced years ago when she found herself alone and hungry and seventeen all those years ago in San Francisco. The first place she had faced it was within herself.
The anguish and the agony of fighting that battle utterly lacked glamour – as she sat there, still at her desk, still trying to figure out what to do next, she knew it was something she didn’t want to think back on. She knew that everyone in the battle today had some sort of tragic backstory. We all do. But there is no place for sympathy or sentimentality in this war. Just: phone calls. Text messages. Plotting and scheming. This is a battle for hearts and minds. This is a war to rewrite the fine print.