Media critic and feminist hero Anita Sarkeesian has made plenty of enemies in the past year, most of them hostile, male video game enthusiasts who feel threatened by her critique of gaming culture as sexist and misogynistic. But in recent weeks, a new and surprising kind of adversary emerged.
She goes by the name of Princess Kora, and she’s found a way to profit from Sarkeesian’s detractors. Two weeks ago, the 29-year-old PhD student and veteran sex worker launched an adult webcam series called “Boob Frequency,” a parody of Feminist Frequency, Sarkeesian’s celebrated YouTube channel that explores gender in popular culture.
In the pornographic sessions, Kora dresses in Sarkeesian’s typical uniform of hoop earrings and a plaid shirt, only she leaves most of the buttons undone and exposes a generous portion of her substantial cleavage, much to the delight of her paying viewers. She also mocks Sarkeesian by “whining about exploitation and oppression,” as she tells Vocativ in recent email.
— Princess Kora (@PrincessKora1) January 4, 2015
In late 2014, Sarkeesian was one of several women who were subject to online harassment and even terror threats by chauvinistic trolls in what became known as Gamergate, a controversy that centered on sexism in video game culture. Detractors were already riled by her “Tropes vs. Women” video series, in which she highlighted female stereotypes in video games, and Gamergate only fanned the flames.
Sarkeesian subsequently received death threats and was forced to cancel a speaking event at Utah State University after someone threatened to shoot up the auditorium. She was also forced to temporarily flee her home.
Kora was not heavily involved in Gamergate, but since she launched “Boob Frequency,” hordes of Gamergate supporters have come flocking to her webcam channel to watch the perverted parody.
The idea for the live show came to Kora only a few weeks ago after someone remarked that she looked like Sarkeesian. Soon after, she announced on Twitter that she would be lampooning the feminist heroine in her next webcam session. “It was totally silly, and I didn’t think anyone would actually watch,” she says. “For the first broadcast, I had a fairly full room of both long-time fans and new supporters who saw me on Twitter. I made jokes about ‘crushing the patriarchy with my boobs’ as the tips came rolling in.”
Since then, “Boob Frequency” has garnered several hundred subscribers, many of whom are active Sarkeesian critics and Gamergate sympathizers.
But according to Kora, her webcam venture is about more than making guys drool all over their keyboards, or appealing to their depraved fantasies of objectifying Sarkeesian in the very way she lambastes. Kora also has an agenda.
“There was some real discourse happening in the chat room,” Kora says. “People who are sick and tired of what Feminist Frequency stands for came together and enjoyed the exact opposite—a sexually liberated, libertarian-leaning, pro-freedom-of-speech woman delivering the product that she promised.”
Though it’s unclear how Sarkeesian is the “exact opposite” of these things as a champion for change and gender equality, Kora claims that her bone to pick with Sarkeesian has more to do with her characterization of sex workers than her views on video games.
“Some have asked why I am so opposed to Anita, and the answer is that I oppose anyone who paints all sex workers with one brush, as ‘prostituted women’ with no agency,” Kora says. “She has the same paternalistic views that many feminists have regarding sex workers—that they need to be rescued, saved; that they would never actually choose this line of work, but rather, were led or coerced into it by a man (usually a pimp).”
Kora is not the first sex worker to grow angry with Sarkeesian, and contemporary feminists in general. According to a recent Newsweek article, “Sex workers have argued that Sarkeesian’s videos contribute to the objectification and stigma that she claims she is trying to reduce.”
In her “Women as Background Decoration” video, Sarkeesian discusses how video games often employ sex workers as objects rather than people. For example, in Hitman: Absolution, players have the option of dumping a stripper’s body over a railing to deter police, and in Saints Row, they are charged with stealing prostitutes from a pimp in order to give them to another. Sarkeesian points out that these women are not treated as people at all, but inanimate beings with no will. But what she fails to make clear, sex workers claim, is that many sex workers in real life do have agency and consciously choose that line of work—echoing a common critique of contemporary feminism as a whole.
“I hear all of this talk of ‘sex-positive feminism,’ and how sex-worker and transgender exclusionary radical feminists are the minority,” Kora says. “I simply do not buy it. The mother of modern-day feminism, Gloria Steinem, recently came out against the term ‘sex work,’ reciting feminist rhetoric about oppression of women. That’s modern-day feminism for you. Why should I align myself with anything tied to that?”
Kora claims that she actually encourages intellectual discussions about sex work in her webcam series, which she uses as a form of activism. “During my last broadcast, I encouraged audience members to ask questions about sex work,” she says. “The theme was ‘Dispelling myths about the sex industry.’ …Of course there were people complimenting me on my breasts and jerking off, but there was also an interesting discussion happening! I want people to have a laugh, but I also want them to reconsider the way Anita has framed sex workers.”
Sarkeesian has not responded to requests for comment, likely because she’s too busy celebrating Intel’s $300 million pledge to promote diversity at the company, as well as within the wider technology and gaming industries, in partnership with Feminist Frequency. After initially pledging to stay out of the Gamergate controversy and even appearing to support Gamergate sympathizers, it appears the multibillion-dollar chip-maker has finally taken a side, providing Sarkeesian with a very powerful ally.
Meanwhile, Gamergaters are already using the news as fodder to continue insulting Sarkeesian, while showing support for their new, voluptuous friend. Kora also has no plans to back down and will air the next broadcast of “Boob Frequency” this coming Sunday.
— RandyMcfelch (@RandyMcfelch) January 7, 2015
— NICK COLEMAN (@nickwcoleman) January 7, 2015
“She is a public figure,” Kora says. “Anyone who goes on national television and seeks fame and publicity is subject to criticism and parody. Anita certainly did not seem to feel bad when she used the term ‘prostituted women’ against sex workers’ consent, so I do not feel guilty using her likeness to point out the hypocrisies in her message.”