Insert Foot: Why should we care about Lauren Kwei and her naked photos?


Rendering: Adam Pardee/STAFF.

Lauren Kwei is a 23-year-old paramedic in New York City.

Lauren Kwei is a 23-year-old sex worker in New York City (technically, she has an OnlyFans account, which makes people money through posting content to subscribers–in many cases, with naked photos).

So, fine, let’s call her a “sex worker.” Apparently these two realities are supposed to be mutually exclusive, or we wouldn’t be talking about it.

We shouldn’t be–and, yes, I may be furthering the insanity by doing so here. But her name is already out there and deserves some defending. Not because I know Lauren Kwei. Precisely because I don’t know her. I shouldn’t.

Kwei became a celebrity this week, because the Rupert-Murdoch-owned New York Post made a moral judgement. It decided–during a holiday season in which the pandemic will kill more Americans than the entire Vietnam War–that a paramedic needing a second, legal, job was worthy of public scrutiny.

It was also a month during which an American president ignored the pandemic and a widespread Russian hack into U.S. government and industry, while peddling unfounded conspiracy theories to the point where sensible people started fearing for democracy.

But the New York Post can’t find anything more newsworthy to occupy its time.

Of course not. The Post isn’t exactly a beacon of democratic principles and fairness. It’s a tabloid, and readers expect as much. But this stood out for a few reasons.

Kwei is a young woman and, as you know, one of the pillars of American Democracy is our ability to encourage double standards. Women are sluts, men get elected president. There are plenty of men with OnlyFans accounts, and I’m guessing some of them are on the public payroll. We don’t care, nor should we.

Which brings us to the next question: Since when are paramedics public figures?

That used to be the standard when it came to scandal, back in the days when publishers could blame their cheapness on the price of newsprint (look it up). Public officials, or people who were willingly of public interest, were fair game, when all else failed. Right or wrong.

A paramedic may technically be on the public payroll. Since 9/11, first responders have certainly gained more traction in the public lexicon. But public employees aren’t the same as elected decision-makers, which requires a public profile.

Next question: Why are we assuming having an OnlyFans account is a bad thing, or at the very least, a noteworthy thing.

It’s not. Grow up. It’s 2020. Sex sells, people like sex, people have sex … well, not everyone … but they can, in theory. How can it be shameful when everyone wants it? If we admire greed so much in the U.S., how can something we literally need–and need to want–to survive, have so much shame attached to it?

The next question should be: Why does Lauren Kwei need a second job? New York is an expensive city. Shouldn’t the people charged with keeping its people safe have salaries allowing them to live comfortably among those they serve?

The final question, for now: What in the wide wide world of sports is anyone doing picking on a first responder in 2020, of all years?

Oh, we banged the pots and we forced the children to scribble signs of support to our health care heroes overwhelmed with life and death as a matter of course, as routinely as you and I complain about being paid to sit through a boring Zoom meeting at our own kitchen table. But when it comes down to it, we haven’t done squat to alleviate their professional suffering, or we would’ve shut up, put on our masks, and put COVID-19 in a nationwide headlock. There would be no such ridiculousness as a “mask debate.”

If I’m dying of an asthma attack (my closest point of reference; paramedics once saved me from doing so), I’m not going to stop suffocating to inquire of the person saving me what they do in their spare time. I read somewhere someone cared because it was “unprofessional” of her. Unless she’s too busy trying to sell me pictures to inflate my failing lungs, her second job has nothing to do with my ability to be alive.

OK … which brings us to one more question:

Who cares?

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(2) Comments

  1. Jon Durham

    Problem is, this entire episode reeks of being another Go Fund Me scam. The story doesn't add up at all if you're paying attention. The GFMs opening statement says " In order to support herself during the pandemic as well as her family, Lauren turned to sex work." But that is patently untrue. She began her Onlyfans account in August, 2019 and began posting to it in November 2019. There was no COVID pandemic. The claim that she turned to sex work "during the pandemic" is a dog whistle to elicit sympathy donations. As well, her employer had never threatened to fire her, she never claims they they did. She only says she was worried they would. There is not and never has been any threat of her loosing her job. Completely fabricated. When asked if she has any idea who tipped off the Post reporter, she gives the shortest answer of all: "I have no idea". She is willing to speculate about everything except that one thing and appears to have zero interest in finding out or assigning any blame to who would have done that. Also of note, the reaction to remove and close her Onlyfans just as her name and popularity get their 15 minutes of fame, is telling. Stands to reason that anyone wishing to sell nude pictures would be doing just that right now. But she traded that in for a GFM. Sorry.... but I think you have all been had by a clever GFM scheme. I wonder how much the writers take is?

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