PVV – does @porn_harms …or does harm come from judgement & shaming?

Luckily (“luckily”), I recently came across this gem from Morality in Media (MIM):

“No options” but to return to porn – Jenna Jameson (11/19/13)

Written by Hysen Sisco, MIM Intern

Jenna Jameson, former porn star, is back in the business after retiring and vowing never to return. Upon leaving the porn industry, Jameson said “I made a promise to my children when they were in my tummy that there is no way I could ever, ever, ever go back.” She explained her reason for leaving was in order to take care of her family.

But after alleged drug addiction, a divorce, losing custody of her two children, a DUI and foreclosure on her home, Jameson is broke and in need of an income. So she’s going back to porn to make more films. With her fame, you would think she’d have the means to support herself, but being in porn does not award a performer the same advantages as other forms of celebrity.

The harms of porn are well documented, but often people forget that the performers are victims as well. Many consent to what they think porn will be like but are shocked to discover the reality of violence, drugs and coercion. In an interview with women’s rights activist and a freelance journalist Maya Shlayen, ex-porn star Vanessa Belmond said, “I never met any woman that had a professional career and left it to go into porn just for fun. Many got into it because of financial desperation. Many also had abusive childhoods.” The fact that these performers are looking for a life and validation via the porn industry shows how little they have to choose from.

So it comes as no surprise when they return to the only thing they know, even if it’s a world of humiliation and danger. In the documentary After Porn Ends, porn performer Nina Hartley explains that performers in porn “don’t know how to do anything else. They don’t know how to do retail; they don’t know how to do Excel spreadsheets. Many people [in] adult entertainment… are not suited for nine-to-five work.” This deficit of choices translates to lack of skills required to work — in addition to the stigma — that follows them beyond porn.

In a recent article, Kimberly Halsey, porn screen name Houston, lamented her inability to move on from porn professionally. Halsey was able to get her real estate license and worked as a broker for 3 years until she was recognized and fired. Now, she’s back in the porn industry so she can at least have an income. “I wanted out of porn. I still want out of porn. I can’t get out of porn because I can’t make the kind of money I can in the adult industry,” she said. “I hate it. I freaking hate it.” (here)

Really? This is supposed to convince me that “porn harms”?

This – “Halsey was able to get her real estate license and worked as a broker for 3 years until she was recognized and fired.” – is supposed to convince me that porn harms? No. All this does is convince me the we, as a culture and as a society, are a bunch of judgmental hypocritical assholes.

The harms of porn are not “well documented.” In fact, they’re not *documented* at all. To date, not even one study exists that connects porn consumption and/or production to causing “harms.” Whatsmore, even works that attempt to draw correlations between (read: possible connections with), say, porn consumption and socially undesirable behaviors (e.g. “sexist” attitudes) can be picked apart methodologically. In others words, the studies are done poorly and/or incorrectly.

But let’s go ahead and keep pretending there’s evidence that supports these “harm” conclusions, MIM…

Interestingly MIM, as an organization that’s (supposedly) concerned with morality and (presumably) kindness and well-being, you’ve missed the boat in a big way re addressing social ails that can actually be linked to porn. I’m talking specifically about the inevitable cruelty and discrimination that seems to occur when a former performer is “outed” in a mainstream workplace. You see, though porn doesn’t cause harm, all sorts of nasty things often happen to performers once they leave the industry. These things actually are well documented – just ask Stacie Halas, Shawn Loftis, Tera Myers, and even Kim Halsey (among so many others… here).

Bits of misrepresentative propaganda like this example from Morality in Media do not make a case for “porn harms.” Instead, they make a case for “we as a culture are judgmental and hypocritical.” This has nothing to do with porn and everything to do with our own tendencies to repudiate that which we are unfamiliar and/or uncomfortable with.

There are several other things about this article that are aggravating (really, one woman says that she only met performers who were X, Y, and Z? well, that’s definitely grounds to characterize an entire population!!), but there’s really only one wider point – the adult industry is not perfect and a career as a porn performer is not for everyone, but that doesn’t make these sorts of outrageous fabrications ok.

I would rather MIM just come out with it: “We MIM, as an organization, think porn is bad and that you shouldn’t do it.” That’s ok!! You don’t have to like porn, MIM, but at least be honest. You’d actually probably reach a lot more people that way #justsayin

le sigh…

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(pictured: reading Kim Halsey’s book is probably a better idea than reading what MIM has to say about her story – available on Amazon here)

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3 thoughts on “PVV – does @porn_harms …or does harm come from judgement & shaming?

  1. I have to laugh when I look at the former pornstar examples they’re using here. Jenna has a well-documented history of drugs, abuse, and emotional instability going back to her childhood. And Houston was on an episode of HBO’s Cathouse a few years back, talking about how the money in porn and legalized brothels is so much better than anything else she’s ever done that she just couldnt stay away. And then she sniffed multiple times throughout the episode showing off what is clearly an addiction problem she has had for years.

    These examples of trainwrecks are what the mainstream loves to perpetuate. It’s salacious…it appeals to conservative, red-state, evangelical Americans who will read and watch this kind of “reporting” and improve TV ratings & subscriber circulations. Unfortunately, thats about 50 percent of America, and they’re the loudmouths, so thats all we get to see.

    Would success stories like Stormy, Jessica Drake, or Jacky St James ever be featured in a piece in Time magazine? Hell no… they’re just poor victims who don’t realize they’re being taken advantage of by the male dominated world of adult films. (Something else thats not even true anymore, but that’s another rant).

    Just as in anything else in life, you get what you give. If someone enters the adult industry with emotional or substance abuse issues, they’re going to get worse. Crap in…crap out. But, because Americans are so good at judging what isn’t “Proper”, the porn industry is obviously the culprit regardless of how screwed-up a person is even before they enter it. Porn caused it, porn made it worse, and lets spend a half-hour talking about this on Fox News this evening at 11.

  2. I would like to point out that Jenna had a drug and alcohol problem before she ever entered the porn industry so you can’t blame porn for that. As for her being broke. Hey, that’s on her. I know that sounds harsh but she probably made more money from porn than any other performer before or since. As for Houston’s troubles, she is hardly the first and only performer to lose a job when someone finds out that they used to make porn.

    Also, Christopher, while I love Jacky, she is a bad example. While she is in porn, she isn’t a performer.

  3. I was actually using Jacky to make the larger point that the mainstream doesn’t discriminate when it comes to judging those in porn. Whether you’re a director, performer, or sound engineer, the moment you have any sort of breakdown people will say “Yep…she was in porn. It made her that way”. And it doesn’t matter if you were big ball of trouble before…the only thing people seem to focus on is that you did porn at some point. Therefore, it’s porn’s fault.

    The irony is that I’ve met more emotionally stable people in and around the adult industry than in many other facets of my life. If anything, having a porn history seems to make you a better person…not worse. From my limited experiences anyway.

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