Since late July, “Australia is [still] being ravaged by the worst wildfires seen in decades.” A terrible drought and record-high temperatures are helping fuel the horrific flames. So far, the tragic toll includes 27 people dead, over 2,000 homes destroyed just in the state of New South Wales, smoke 11-times the hazard level in Sydney, more than 17.9 million acres of land burned, and millions of animals likely dead.
Thankfully there are organizations and individuals responding to the tragedy. One of those people is Kaylen Ward. An attractive 20-year model from Los Angeles, Ward tweeted a promise on January 3 to send a picture of herself to anyone who sent her proof of a donation of $10 or more to a legitimate fire relief organization such as the Australian Red Cross or Salvation Army Australia. Ward kept her promise, and within four days, her efforts helped raise an amazing $1 million!
Why has Ward’s work been so successful and controversial? It was because she wasn’t wearing anything in the photos; Ward was nude.
The people receiving the pictures, weren’t surprised—they got exactly what Ward promised and what might be expected from an “influencer and sex worker” who makes a living from nakedness, often by selling nude photos and videos of herself on OnlyFans. Recently, she’s come to call herself “The Naked Philanthropist.”
One reason people have taken issue with Ward’s promotion of wildfire relief was a perception that she must somehow be skimming money off the top for herself. However, she quickly clapped back at such allegations, tweeting that “none of the donation money to Australia has or ever will go to me. The only money I have made is money from my [Only]fans. I guarantee I am not pocketing any donation money.”
Given that people donated directly to the relief organizations and just direct messaged Ward copies of receipts, she had no access to the money. In contrast, Ward apparently incurred some direct costs from her philanthropy. After her initial tweet went viral (over 88K retweets and more than 226K likes), she said she had to hire four people to help her sort through all of the messages, verify the donations, and send out over 10,000 nude photos.
It’s likely, though, that whatever those cost were, they were more than offset by all the free media ‘exposure’ (sorry) she’s received, probably worth at least tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention the contact list of future customers she undoubtedly built from all those who direct messaged her for a free pic.
Likewise, Ward’s social media following exploded. Before her first ‘fire relief post’ she had about 176K Twitter followers. She now has over 387K.
Knowing those positive personal outcomes, some may argue that her philanthropy was intentionally self-serving. Ward takes issue with that assessment, however, saying that she had seen the impact of the recent California fires firsthand and knows “how devasting” they can be.
Also, soon after stopping her nude photos promotion, Ward started a GoFundMe campaign aimed at raising money for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and the World Wildlife Fund. She stated: “I want to continue raising funds to save the people and animals of Australia,” because the causes are “very important to me.”
It’s hard to judge motives. There’s also not necessarily anything wrong with a person wanting both to help others and to advance his/her own career. Many forward-thinking organizations take a similar strategic approach to their philanthropy such that they do well financially while doing good socially.
But, then there’s the specific nature of Ward’s career. It’s pornography.
Many individuals and organizations believe that there are standards of decency that should be upheld, including ones involving sexual explicitness. Facebook, which owns Instagram, is one of those organizations: It disabled Ward’s Instagram account because she apparently violated the site’s prohibition of offering nude images.
Some may say, though, that the means justify the ends, i.e., given the devastation Australia has endured, ‘baring’ oneself is acceptable in order to provide relief to those in need. Such an argument usually stems from a belief in consequentialism, or that the greatest net happiness is what determines whether an action is ethical, not freestanding moral principles like decency, dignity, and decorum.
But, if one considers consequences, there’s a need to look at all the consequences likely to come from Ward sharing her nakedness. Those include consequences associated with pornography. Here are several of the negative outcomes that individuals often experience from using porn, provided by Caron Andrews:
- Changes the brain: Through the release of dopamine each time, the brain requires more and more porn.
- Affects behavior: Porn users often have more violent attitudes toward women and exhibit more domineering and harassing behavior toward them.
- Leads to sexual dysfunction: Actual physical intimacy becomes less stimulating.
- Harms one’s sense of sexuality: Porn can cause people to have deviant and even dangerous sexual tastes.
- Stunts real-life relationships: Users often draw away from others and keep secrets from them.
- Teaches that women are sexual objects: Women are often ‘stripped’ of dignity and presented as vehicles for men’s sexual satisfaction.
- Makes people feel bad about themselves: The lack of congruity between one’s values and actions causes stress and feelings of hypocrisy.
- Changes moods: People who use porn are often easily annoyed, angered, and depressed.
The preceding list isn’t comprehensive. Besides negative impacts on individual users and those close to them, some suggest that pornography carries a major economic price: $16.9 billion a year in lost productivity.
Again, it’s impossible to know Ward’s true motivation, but even if she really did mean well, her philanthropic approach was greatly misguided. The nude photos probably pleased their recipients and the corresponding donations likely helped ease Australia’s pain, but Ward discarded basic decency while fueling the flames of a terrible social problem, which makes her work “Single-Minded Marketing.”