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Men of Crypto Attempt to Master the Art of the Thirst Trap

Screen Shot 2021 02 09 at 3.52.39 PM

The NFT community has been taken over by thirst traps. 

Sexy, sexy thirst traps like this one posted over the weekend:

Source: Twitter

And this one:

Source: Twitter

And here’s mine (which you can buy for $3.4k if you want):

Source: Rarible

You’re probably wondering why. 

It seems like a joke, but there’s a deeper meaning to these salacious pictures; some men in crypto want to make sure the emerging non-fungible token space doesn’t become as misogynistic as the legacy mediums it’s coming to replace.

CoinDesk Article

It all started with a CoinDesk article, published back in September, about how women in crypto are leveraging “thirst trap” NFTs to take ownership of their public image. The article posits that women can use these tools to choose how they want to present themselves to the world, and profit from it. Men have been able to sexualize women or demean them for their appearance; now crypto offers a way for women to take control and benefit from their sex appeal with NFT thirst traps. 

But to be clear, a thirst trap is a picture taken with the intent to sexually entice people. (Please notice my lucious chest hair and splayed legs revealing Shrek leapfrogging over Donkey.)

So while that may be the case for some women’s selfie NFTs, it’s certainly not the case for all of them. It seems like this shouldn’t have to be clarified but: not all NFT images sold by women are “thirst traps.” 

Not a Thirst Trap

Such is the case with Rachel “CryptoFinally” Siegel, a well-known blockchain advocate and marketing professional who generated a ton of crypto community buzz (and backlash) for minting what was most likely the first NFT selfie on Rarible. Siegel was at the center of the CoinDesk story, which went so far as to use a picture of her in a bikini (albeit one she had never used to make her own NFT), annotated with her real name, as the article’s lead image.

The article described Siegel’s original selfie NFT as “a lingerie photo,” noting its substantial price ($3,614 worth of ETH) before drawing a comparison between Siegel selling her NFT and Belle Delphine selling her bath water. 

“If sex workers can sell bathwater or socks, and podcasters can sell stickers, why can’t crypto influencers sell blockchain receipts?” the article said.

But there’s a major flaw with the article: To Siegel, this “thirst trap” NFT wasn’t a thirst trap at all. 

What Makes a “Thirst Trap” So Thirsty?

“It’s incredibly misogynistic,” Siegel tells The Defiant. “Fundamentally, we all know for a fact they would never print an article like that about a man minting a non-fungible token. It would just never, in this world, happen.”

Words matter, and so do connotations. “Thirst trap” is a loaded term that implies a person is intentionally taking sexualized pictures. Writing about how someone is selling thirst trap pictures for thousands of dollars and comparing them to a famous sex worker paints a very different picture than writing about how someone is playing around with turning selfies into NFTs.

Source: Rairible

By all accounts, Siegel’s NFT is a pretty standard selfie. She’s not doing anything that seems particularly out of the ordinary for anyone taking a selfie in their bedroom mirror. She’s not wearing lingerie, as the article suggested, either. She’s wearing a robe that covers her whole body. The only element of Siegel’s selfie that lends itself to the categorization of “thirst trap” is that Siegel is a woman.

Correction

After Siegel minted her first NFT selfie, the community response was a mixed bag. A lot of people found it amusing and clever, with some artists even making their own renditions of her images. But Siegel received a lot of hate and bullying, too. She thought the article would present an opportunity to defend herself, but she didn’t expect to be deemed a “thirst trap” on CoinDesk.

Siegel asked for a correction immediately after CoinDesk published the article, as she was not in lingerie and didn’t profit from the image. 

“Great article but this part – ‘Some of her NFTs, such as a lingerie photo titled ‘I’m in it for the money,’ each garnered more than $3,614 worth of ETH.’ – This is incorrect. I was not in lingerie & I garnered zero profit from the 10 eth selfies. Please correct?” Siegel wrote to the author, Leigh Cuen.

In a private message, Siegel expressed that having the nature of her NFTs misrepresented on a major site like CoinDesk was very damaging to her. 

The article was later revised from “Some of her NFTs, such as a lingerie photo titled ‘I’m in it for the money,’ each garnered more than $3,614 worth of ETH” to “another of her NFTs is a lingerie photo titled “I’m in it for the money,” listed for $3,614 worth of ETH.” There is no visible edit notation.

The Defiant reached out to Cuen for comment, but has not received a response.

Negative Effects

Over the past week, Siegel has been especially vocal about her efforts to get CoinDesk to issue a retraction, which she has spent over four months trying to get. 

She has emphasized the negative effects it’s had on her mental, emotional, and professional well-being. She explained that many SEO searches related to her name have now been co-opted by the article and that “CryptoFinally OnlyFans” is now the third search suggestion when you look her up on Google. (Siegel doesn’t have an OnlyFans.) In one longer video post, she even broke down crying

On Sunday, Zack Seward, CoinDesk’s managing editor, tweeted, “I’m genuinely looking for the places where a remedy may be called for. If you see those specific places, send me an email.” 

Seward sent similar emails to Siegel, to which she replied asking to redact the word “lingerie.” 

CoinDesk executive editor Marc Hochstein reached out to Siegel as well, informing her that “As Zack Seward has said several times, CoinDesk stands by the story as written.” 

When reached by The Defiant, Seward declined to comment.

Cuen and Seward have themselves been harassed online in retaliation by a few of Siegel’s supporters. Cuen has been called derogatory names and Seward’s family information was made public. Siegel tweeted that she does not condone any personal attacks towards the CoinDesk team, telling her followers not to do that, while she continues to push for a correction.

Community Response

Siegel’s self-advocacy has led to an outpouring of support from the crypto community, with middle-aged, male NFT artists like Second Realm and Alotta Money posting actual thirst traps of themselves to illustrate the sexist double-standard. 

“It is funny, but it also speaks to this amazing truth,” says Siegel “One of them tweeted out three pictures of these naked men next to the photo of me in a robe. You would never write an article like that about those men, and having them put it in front of you like that I think was really tangible for a lot of people.”

Still, it’s important to recognize that men have the privilege to do things like post NFT thirst traps in solidarity without actually needing to worry about any real repercussions. I can post that thirst trap NFT of myself in Shrek boxers without any concern that people will slutshame me or my name will become attached to an OnlyFans I don’t have (yet). My image is objectively much more lewd than anything Siegel has posted, and yet I would never have to consider the possibility of a media outlet labeling me in a damaging way. 

It was actually Cuen who put it best in the same article:

“Women in the crypto community don’t have a choice whether people will attempt to profit from their sexuality. They only have (limited) legal options to fight it like a cat-and-mouse game. This is a tale as old as time, where predominately male circles demean women profiting from their own image as the artist and owner, rather than the passive muse.”

[UPDATED 2/12 @12:30PM EST to reflect that some of Siegel’s supporters are harassing CoinDesk’s editorial team.]


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