Please scroll down for VIDEOS about porn performer choice and consent. Thank you!
A "choice" by a young woman who is usually in her late teens or early twenties, who is often in severe financial need, who is frequently a victim of former sexual abuse, does not negate or justify harm to her by others in the porn industry. Nor does it justify a user of pornography taking pleasure in that misguided, unfortunate, self-destructive and sometimes unavoidable choice that is harmful not only to the performer, but also usually to their loved ones and to humanity on the whole, especially to other women and girls. (But rarely intentionally on the part of the performer.)
Former pornography performer Shelley Lubben on the issue of choice in regards to young women participating in the pornography industry:
"Women, especially young girls, are never properly informed to be able to make a wise choice to enter porn. Pornograpy is so hidden that not even movies or the media depict the dark side of porn or the consequences involved. Schools and churches do not educate young people about the porn industry. Parents don't talk to their children about the porn industry. How then are women able to make an informed choice about being in porn?
"The only education young women receive about the porn industry is FROM the porn industry where glamour, fame and fortune is promised when in reality the only promise the porn industry should be making to youngwomen are sexually transmitted diseases, illegal and hazardous work conditions, drugs and alcohol addiction, threats to physically hurt them, coercion to sign contracts they aren't even educated enough to read or understand, threats for non-payment when they ruin scenes for things like crying or vomiting, and the regret of having their movies posted on the internet for a life-time where family members and friends may find them. Porn is modern day slavery. Get informed and get involved!"
Please see our page about Shelley with many videos of her telling the truth about the harms of pornography. Click here.
A lot of people think that pornography is okay and harmless because "The performer CHOSE to do it." If you are still one of those people after reading the above, please watch the videos on this page and read the rest of the information on this page. Thank you.
Please also realize that some people do NOT in any way voluntarily participate in pornography but are forced into performing sex acts in pornography by pimps and traffickers, particularly in Third World countries. See the first and fourth videos further down this page as examples of forced pornography.
So in many cases there is no way of knowing if the person that you are watching in pornography is there by their own free choice or not. Please think about that if you watch pornography, the next time you're looking at it. Thank you.
If you are already against the harms of pornography and have dealt with this issue of choice when talking to others, we recommend that you too also read all of the below and watch the videos on this page. Doing so will help you address this issue with others. You can also direct them to this page so that they can become more properly informed themselves.
"Felicity ran off the set in hysterics. Apparently, Hardcore had forced himself into her mouth so that she felt she was suffocating. She refused to go on with the shoot. He then tried every possible means to persuade her. (At one point, he demanded she personally pay for his crew.) At first, she resisted. Then she began to break down. Finally, she agreed to continue. At that point, I knew I had to step in. Whatever consent may have existed earlier I felt no longer existed."
"Pro-pornography leftists often rush to explain that the women in pornography have chosen that work. Although any discussion of choice must take into consideration the conditions under which one chooses, we don't dispute that women do choose, and as feminists we respect that choice and try to understand it.
But, to the best of our knowledge, no one on the left defends capitalist media -- or any other capitalist enterprise -- by pointing out workers consented to do their jobs. The people who produce media content, or any other product, consent to work in such enterprises, under varying constraints and opportunities. So what? The critique is not of the workers, but of the owners and structure."
"As we understand left analysis, the focus isn't on individual decisions about how to survive in a system that commodifies everything and takes from us meaningful opportunities to control our lives. It's about fighting a system."
"Leftists who otherwise pride themselves on analyzing systems and structures of power, can turn into extreme libertarian individualists on the subject of pornography. The sophisticated, critical thinking that underlies the best of left politics can give way to simplistic, politically naïve, and diversionary analysis that leaves far too many leftists playing cheerleader for an exploitive industry. In those analyses, we aren't supposed to examine the culture's ideology and how it shapes people's perceptions of their choices, and we must ignore the conditions under which people live; it's all about an individual's choice.
A critique of pornography doesn't imply that freedom rooted in an individual's ability to choose isn't important, but argues instead that these issues can't be reduced to that single moment of choice of an individual. Instead, we have to ask: What is meaningful freedom within a capitalist system that is racist and sexist?"
"Structurally speaking, as a person facing oppression of whatever kind, one has two choices. One can resist the oppression—in general, or in any particular instance—in which case one is likely to get viciously slapped down. Alternatively, one can obey, that is, act in ways that please the oppressors, perhaps in hopes of gaining some limited reward (or at least of avoiding the oppressive systems very worst consequences). As you may have noticed, neither option is altogether attractive; as the feminist philosopher Marilyn Frye points out, oppression systematically puts oppressed people in double binds, catch-22s, situations in which, as we say, they cant win for losing. But the crucial point for our purposes here is that one way, arguably the central way, in which oppressive systems perpetuate themselves is by giving individual members of the oppressed group an apparent stake in toeing the line. At the very least, we go along to get along in many situations, and we may find that the more we curry favor with those in power, the more we are rewarded on an individual basis. Because of this dynamic, if some role or practice X harms women as a group in that it sustains and reinforces patriarchy, it is utterly predictable that some women will choose it. Thus, again, the essential feminist question is not whether some individual women like or choose or benefit in certain ways from X, but whether the overall effect of X is to keep women as a group subordinate to men. Feminism is about ending the subordination of women. Expanding women's freedom of choice on a variety of fronts is an important part of that, but it is not the whole story. In fact, any meaningful liberation movement involves not only claiming the right to make choices, but also holding oneself accountable for the effects of those choices on oneself and on others."
"We adjust our desires based on whats actually happening and on what we think is and is not possible. Philosophers have a useful term for the results of this process: adaptive preferences. The basic idea is simple: if I cant have something (or think I cant have it), then it behooves me not to want that thing. Conversely, if I'm going to get something whether I like it or not, then Ill be happier if I can get myself to want it and like it. So people adapt their desires to fit their situations, rather than vice versa, thus minimizing the pain and cognitive dissonance of continuing to want something that they don't think they can get: if you cant have what you want, as the saying goes, then want what you have. The concept of adaptive preferences is indispensable to understanding the self-reproducing dynamics of oppressive systems. In particular, I think it can help us understand the new brand of feminism of which I am, for the moment, taking Karp and Stoller as representatives—the brand that's sometimes called do-me feminism, but for which the less polite moniker is f*ck-me feminism."
"I've found that students—at least the ones in my classes—are starved for something other than the feel-good, it's-all-about-choice model of pseudo-feminism that they're exposed to elsewhere in the culture. The advertising industry tells them that a new lipstick shade will give them "power," while "freedom" can be theirs with a new variety of tampon. Meanwhile, the rest of the mainstream media assures them that feminism means climbing the corporate ladder, being free to pose for pornography if they want to, doing whatever makes them feel good and not being answerable to anyone for it."
"I guess it's a lot easier to display your rebellious spirit when you're not being asked to think about (let alone do) anything particularly demanding. It's probably even easier when you can believe that whatever you're already doing is itself positively revolutionary—or, more chillingly, that doing to others as you've been done to is really what liberation is all about.
My students, for the most part, aren't buying it. They are hungry for distinctions of valuTe, for something besides "anything goes." They sense that their culture is seriously deranged at some pretty deep levels, and they want some way to understand and navigate the (mostly crappy) choices that this culture offers them."
One argument by the pornstitution crowd is that sex trafficking is not consensual, while prostitution or pornography are. Here is one definition proposed by the “sex worker” lobby: “a person who consensually exchanges their own sexual labor or sexual performance for compensation.”
This, however, completely obscures one important issue: does a monetary exchange generate consent? As it so happens, the main proponents of “sex work” have already answered that question. By and large, they believe that the fact that someone gets paid to do something does not generate consent, and can often be explained by a lack of opportunities or a lack of education. They reject the premises of free market capitalism, including the sacrosanct authority of property owners over their employees.
In fact, they believe that monetary exchange does not, in and of itself, generate consent in any area of life except for “sex work.” In that area, they say that (monetary) “compensation” generates consent. Why? Because sexual activity, according to their sex-positive doctrine, cannot be questioned, prostitution and pornography are forms of sexual activity (according to them, anyway), therefore prostitution and pornography cannot be questioned. To cast doubt on the validity of the concept of “sexual labor” is heresy.
This is obviously, and deeply, illogical. If monetary exchanges cannot generate consent, then they cannot do so in the specific case of “sexual labor.” If they do, then either the principle is wrong, or the liberal is simply in error in the case of “sexual labor.” Either “sexual labor” is labor, in which case it is the result of social conditions which must be changed, or it is not labor, in which case the label is simply mistaken.
"Pornography and prostitution "in the material world" are overwhelmingly not "choices." They are vast, exploitative, patriarchal-capitalist industries, largely violent, very lucrative, controlled by women-hating men, and destructive of the women (and children) who are victimized by them. Most of the women who are prostituted (including those who are used to produce pornography) are poor, disproportionately from oppressed groups, frequently drug-addicted, the vast majority showing clear signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, and wanting out. The majority suffered from sexual abuse as children, and many were first "turned out" as minors. Many new prostitutes are "broken in" through gang rape, and constantly abused by pimps.
These claims are based on extensive research, not the anecdotal interviews with industry spokespersons suggested to Chyng Sun by Nina Hartley. The anthology, "Not For Sale: Feminist Resisting Prostitution and Pornography," edited by Christine Stark and Rebecca Whisnant, cites this research extensively, for anyone who is interested in actually studying this predatory industry.
The "bad girl" image coveted by "sex radicals" is a pure exercise of class and national privilege that intentionally ignores how they provide cover for this industry and the dangerous, sometimes deadly, realities behind it. Their "choices" always trump the reality of those trapped in prostitution and pornography, and their solution is not to attack the industry, but to call those enslaved within it "sex workers.""
All choices have consequences, and being in the pornography industry has had lethal consequences for many performers. Watch the below video and see for yourself.
DEAD PORN STARS MEMORIAL
Does anyone really think that any of those in the above video would consiciously CHOOSE to enter into the industy again if they had the oppotunity to live their lives again? Do you REALLY think they all FULLY understood the consequences of their choice to enter into pornography when then did? Do you really think if they could speak from the grave that they would say to their kids: "Sure -- go ahead and go into porn. It was great for me!" Obviously not. The only people who say that are the ones who are still in it and need it for their income, or the ones in denial about what a misogynist and abusive industry it is.
The bottom line is that just because something was a CHOICE doesn't mean it wasn't an UNINFORMED, HARMFUL and MISGUIDED choice, or one that the person who made it wouldn't like to take back if they could. The responsible and caring thing to do is to speak to those who are considering going into the industry to warn them, because those in the above video who have died cannot. But we think everyone can agree that they would if they could.
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This outstanding website comprehensively addresses the harms of pornography in regards to all of the following categories: addiction, brain science, children, cybersex, family, Internet, Internet safety, marriage, men, psychological, prostitution, relationships, research, self image, sex trafficking, sexting, sexual violence, societal, STDs, teens, and women.
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At AntiPornography.orgwe are working to prevent and combat the devastating harms of pornography, prostitution, sex trafficking and sexual slavery, as well as all other forms of sexual exploitation, through public education and advocacy. We are:
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ANTI-PORNOGRAPHY ORGANIZATIONS GROUPS AND WEBSITES:
Saavi Accountability -- The only online accountability program that works with all online addictions. It is also the only program that sends notifications instantly via text message to an accountability partner so that they can be supportive when an individual needs it the most at the point of weakness, while they are accessing the online content. The software was created by a young man (26) who overcame his addiction and is trying to help others.
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(Note: The No Porn Northampton FAQ is in the bottom half of their sidebar. In addition to the usual questions about pornography it addresses questions and concerns about activism against sexually oriented businesses such as "adult bookstores.")
"Pornography is a marketing device for sex trafficking: It normalizes degradation and violence as acceptable and even inevitable parts of sex, and uses the bodies of real women and children as objects. The difference between pornography and erotica is clear in the roots of the words themselves -- porne means females slaves, eros means love -- so pornography, like rape, is about violence and domination, not sex. Millions of lives depend on our ability to separate pornography from erotica, and to disentangle violence from sexuality."
Gloria Steinem, 2006
For information about Gloria Steinem's important work of fighting against the harms of pornography, sex trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, including videos and an audio interview, please see our page on Gloria Steinem. Click here.
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