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Let's Talk About The Porn Industry, Baby

by Asterion Avocado about a month ago in porn star
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Is it a problematic industry or something we need?

Let's Talk About The Porn Industry, Baby
Photo by We-Vibe Toys on Unsplash

Wallace - to get an idea of what inspired me  to write about porn- recounts the story of when he was invited and attended (or had to correspond from; unsure) a porn convention. This may sound like freaky stuff, and maybe it was, but that wasn't the point, not for "our correspondent".

The industry's not only

vulgar, it's predictably vulgar. All the clichés are true. - DFW, Big red son

The convention is full of expectedly slimy men with goatees, well-worn women smoking their tenth cigarette of the hour while chewing gum, lights, people, and ceremonies for "the best anal of the year".

While I don't remember the full argument of the essay (I have read it a while ago and my memory is as vacant as a black hole), I remembered the author talking about things many of us don't often think about when thinking about porn. For example:

Thirty-four-year-old porn actor Cal Jammer killed himself in 1995.

Starlets Shauna Grant, Nancy Kelly, Alex Jordan, and Savannah

have all killed themselves in the last decade. Savannah and Jordan

received AVN's Best New Starlet awards in 1991 and 1992, respectively.

Savannah killed herself after getting mildly disfigured in a

car accident. Alex Jordan is famous for having addressed her suicide

note to her pet bird.

How much then is there to wonder about what goes on in and around the porn industry?

By Malvestida on Unsplash

How easy is it nowadays to access porn? Sure, you might have to hide your porn watching time from your partner. Or maybe you are one of the lucky ones who can watch it in sweet company. Fact is, you don't need to go to an adult-film cinema or buy DVDs from the grimy corner of the local mag shop, or even rent them (used, mint condition). You don't need to use what remains of your imagination to create stories from pictures in a magazine. Porn is there, on your phone, on your pc, and free and easy to access.

In fact, the whole industry has kind of changed. Do we know the name of megacompanies producing films? The owners and CEOs of these companies? Probably not. But we still remember some figures from the 80s and 90s that made their fame through porn. Think Hugh Hefner in a bathrobe, women surrounding.

Not to forget, while porn makes use of men and women alike (ok, might be often more exploitative for women, but we'll get there), men are now not the only ones watching porn "openly". The increasing openness of women in admitting their porn-watching time is not only a symptom of the change in times, but it has also changed the porn scene. At least in some parts, some places, some ways. For example, Bellesa is a porn streaming site made for women, with statements such as "At Bellesa, we believe that sexuality on the internet should depict women as we truly are- as subjects of pleasure, not objects of conquest".

Change of Aesthetics, porn starlets turnover

Brazzers, Bang-Bros, these are some house names that some (or all?) of you will recognise as good quality producers. However, times are a-changing. Long gone are the days of intricate movies with story plots driving to the fantastical hard-core scene. Most porn in fact (think PornHub) is amateur. What's more, most porn is unregulated. So speaking of quality, while many companies are shooting at "HD visuals", many go for the amateur look. Even when there is a budget.

And here we enter the realm of the budget. It seems that the porn industry is experiencing record turn-overs, with most actresses working only between four and six months - thus having less leverage and accepting riskier scenes sooner than actresses used to. Why? Well, according to a New Yorker article, "performers work long hours with no benefits and they have to cover significant out-of-pocket costs. Tests for S.T.D.s can be as much as two hundred dollars a month. Add to this grooming, travel, and the usual freelancer expenses and it costs a lot to be legal in the porn industry". Not everyone lives big.

But is it all bad?

By George Coletrain on Unsplash

The old debate goes something like this: anti-porn feminists argue that porn is objectifying, exploiting, and often violating of women. Pro-porn feminists argue that while the inhibition in the wider society is a problem (women not allowed to express their sexuality), porn is putting the choice back into women's hands (npi) and offering an avenue for them to finally be themselves.

The successful Sasha Grey once put out a manifesto, it included this:

"If I am working out any issues through porn, it's anger at society for not being open about sex." - Sasha Grey

My opinion though, is that while the problem of the oppression of women's sexuality is indeed a problem of the wider society, porn does not make it better. Sure, it may be a symptom of the need of some women, but it is not a solution. With this, I am not saying that porn is the opposite of female empowerment, but it can often be.

Whilst sites like Bellesa exist, most of the porn content is not made for women. On the opposite spectrum, in fact, porn can be harmful to women, both as individuals and as a group. Think of most porn videos: they usually are an expression of men's power over women. Andrea Dworkin a feminist campaigner once described porn as "the explicit subordination of women", and I can't totally disagree. Sure, it is not always as such. But often.

Some feminist anti-porn researchers believe pornography drives men to commit violence against women. My first thought was "nope, I think if a piece of crap is a rapist, he is so with or without porn". But as I come to understand, the findings argue that porn appears to give some men the sense of normality of certain acts, which they perform without asking for consent (e.g. ejaculating on a woman's face).

By Romi Yusardi on Unsplash

The obsession with underaged girls is not new in the porn industry, but then not exclusive to it either. A while ago, Traci Lords entered the adult film profession by concealing her age with a forged birth certificate, she was only 15. During her career, she soon rose to become one of the most highly prized actors in the porn business. When the FBI responded on an undercover informant that Lords was a minor while working in the business and that pornographers were selling these illegal photographs and videos, the aftermath resulted in the conviction of individuals who created and circulated the recordings. In addition, all of her adult videos were classified as child pornography up until the very last video she starred in.

Still, the industry gets around rules to satisfy those who want to see certain types of content. Note, I'm not talking about the illegal underground business of child pornography (it pains me even to just think about it). The industry pushes in fact much content focused on young teens. Most often through titles and clothing (think school girl attire), but sometimes through photoshop and makeup as well.

I truly struggle to understand how regulations are failing to catch up to this type of content. Some commonly searched keywords include Teens (with around half a million results on Pornhub), abused teens, painful anal, gagging facial and more.

And I'll be honest with you here. I don't believe to be totally against porn. I just believe that porn needs much heavier regulations. Especially when it implies paedophilia and/or abuse. Abuse of any woman or man of any age, of course.

Then surely, there is a lot to say about the huge trend of incest. Stepdaddies, "naughty" stepsis, unremittable bros and…stepmom stuck doing laundry? What's going on there? Though with this one, I blame people outside of porn mostly. Why?? What's so hot about incest? Funny though, when incest or step-incest videos are so (so) popular, but face-to-face no one would ever admit watching it: step-sis?? That's for Alabama bro! Sure, until you are in the darkness of your room. And listen, I am usually for shaming no one's sexual desires, but there are limits. And speaking of objectification, let's talk about racist categories.

By Becca Tapert on Unsplash

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Asian, Arab, Ebony and more. Taste the rainbow? Oh, and let's not forget the BBC. Yes, Big Black Cock.

"Whether it's the trope of the Black thug, the spicy Latina, or subservient Asian, these things just get recycled over and over again because none of these people have challenged these perceptions in their minds." - King Noire

And sure, these stereotypes are not at all exclusive to porn. Many movies around the world still push them. And unfortunately, people believe them to be true even outside of the screen. But what is this business of categorising porn by the colour of the actresses and actors if not pure fetishism and racism?

There are no categories such as "white" or "Caucasian". Ok, ok, there is "Italian", and I'm not sure what to say about that (*squeezes fingers together shaking her hand like a true italiana*). The fact is that, like in too many industries, in porn whiteness is the standard against which people of colour are placed as a contrast.

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Other issues one may discuss are how porn, not unlike social media sites such as Instagram, is creating issues in the way young women and men see their bodies. But, again, pornography is not the root of all evil. I think it is not great, as it is. And who knows, maybe it can never be great. I think that there might be a chance for porn to become a real avenue of female sexual empowerment, but surely it isn't there yet.

It's a complicated problem, truly. One that like many other complicated problems does not get a clear solution. At least not from me. Can it ever be a problem-free industry? Possibly not. But I do not think it will ever disappear, and maybe in part, it shouldn't. Still, surely it has to do better.

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What do you think? Honestly. Is porn needed? Is porn anti-feminist? Can it be better?

Also, I am considering a spin-off of this story entitled something like "The Hentai Dilemma", where I investigate similar pros and cons of the adult-anime industry. Just letting you know, in case you enjoyed this one.

porn star

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Asterion Avocado

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