Echo chambers can be dangerous social spheres where beliefs go unchecked and unchallenged, but 24-year-old Thea Feldman found that her echo chamber is, in fact, exactly where she belongs after a disheartening conversation with her aunt about the ethics of sex work.
“I know it’s important to be able to articulate your beliefs to someone who doesn’t already agree with you,” Thea says. “But then other times it’s like, maybe you’re just wasting your energy arguing with someone who’s totally set in their ways and it’s not bettering either of you.”
Thea’s aunt’s views on sex work were deemed not worthy of circulation, but included illogical conflations of sex-trafficking and sex work, weak appeals to second wave feminism, and good, old-fashioned, slut-shaming.
“Maybe conversations within my ‘echo chamber’ aren’t radically shifting anyone’s views,” Thea says. “But there is kind of more room for nuance when you’re not coming at a topic from fundamentally different worldviews, like that of my aunt whose understanding of sex work comes primarily from episodes of Law & Order: SVU.”
Thea was more than content to return to her echo chamber where she can learn more about sex workers’ rights, advocacy, and experiences directly from people involved in sex work, rather than from her aunt whose big insight was that it’s “not all like Pretty Woman”.
“It’s crazy, but sometimes talking to stubborn people who have no idea what they’re talking about and no desire to learn is actually not a productive time,” Thea says. “Sometimes pushing people to see things in ways they haven’t considered before is actually an important, if frustrating, task. And other times it’s like, I only talk to my aunt twice a year and we’re not getting anywhere here, are we?”
While Thea was reportedly glad to get back to conversations between people with shared social and political aims as her, she was also glad to shit talk her out-of-control cousin with her aunt for a while before the end of their visit.
“We may not agree on sex work,” Thea says. “But we can always agree that Brendan is an absolute mess.”