Cover photo by Irvin Rivera for BuzzFeed News. This selected portion of text is a direct repost from a Buzzfeed News piece by Ariane Lange. Click here to read the piece in its entirety. Link trigger warning for descriptions of sexual abuse and pornographic scenarios.
In a culture where porn is largely celebrated and largely believed to be an exploitation-free and harmless habit, it’s important to give visibility to reports that showcase the exploitation, abuse, and coercion that are ingrained within the industry. It’s especially important to give visibility to these reports when they show up in widely-read publications.
The excerpts below are a direct repost from a piece shared on May 25th by Buzzfeed News. It’s stories like these that illustrate why porn performers choose not to publicly speak out about the force, fraud, coercion, and exploitation they face during the production process. We fight because no one deserves to be sexually exploited or abused, no matter who they are or what their background is.
As some background for the following excerpt, in 2016, Adult Video News Hall of Fame inductee Nikki Benz spoke out saying she was assaulted by a director on set while shooting for one of the world’s most popular porn production companies. The Canadian porn performer is considered to be the most popular performer who partners exclusively with the massive online porn production company, which made the news all the more shocking to those in the industry. She said that the director stomped on her head and choked her, even after she yelled “cut” during the filming of the scene. She said the attack left her shocked and crying for the first time in her 13-year career.
“The director himself put his hands on me and was choking me,” she tweeted. “Never in a million years did I think [porn company] would allow it.”
In one text message she posted, she writes, “Did you see the part where I said cut, where I said I’m not OK with this? … I said no.”
She also tweeted, “I guess rape scenes are in now, huh?”
She filed a lawsuit this April against the porn production company Brazzers, its parent company MindGeek, and fellow actors Tony T. and Ramon Nomar for sexual battery, according to a Jezebel report (link trigger warning).
The suit, provided to Jezebel (link trigger warning) by Benz’s lawyer, alleges that she was non-consensually “struck on the face, head, and breasts hard enough to cause her to bleed” during the shoot two years ago. Benz says she was then pressured into saying that it was consensual in order to receive her paycheck.
For Porn Actors, It’s Risky To Say #MeToo. Just Ask Nikki Benz.
By Ariane Lange
Because much of the day was caught on video, Benz thought her criminal case would be “a slam dunk.” But she said the deputy district attorney explained during their brief meeting that he would have to convince a jury that what they were seeing in the video was not consensual. “He said that he couldn’t differentiate what was acting and what wasn’t. I told him, did you see the blood? Did you see the choking? I didn’t agree to that.” When BuzzFeed News informed her that a DA spokesperson said her case was declined “due to insufficient evidence,” she said, “To me, that’s disgusting. There’s tape.”…
Watching unprecedented public support for people who’d faced sexual misconduct [during the start of the #MeToo movement last year], Benz wrote a pleading email to the detective on her case on Nov. 22, 2017. “I’m baffled as to why the mainstream actresses are getting the proper recognition/justice for speaking out against their abusers, yet I have spoken out about this almost a year ago and I have yet to hear back,” she said. “Why am I fighting this hard to prove that I was physically/sexually abused when it’s on film?”
The question gnaws at her. It also reveals how hard it is to prove a lack of consent—especially for [porn performers]. She told the DA her distress in the tape was real, but it wasn’t enough. In Benz’s message to the detective in November, she continued, “Writing this email is embarrassing to me. I’m devastated that I have to basically beg to be considered human.”
Despite porn’s ubiquity, one actor told BuzzFeed News that the industry is small, comparing it to a gossipy high school. “I know plenty of people in the industry with #MeToo stories that they’re still too terrified to come out about,” said Jacky St. James, a porn director. If a performer complains after a scene, or sometimes even if she says “no” to something during a scene, she could be branded as a troublemaker or “a diva” and lose work, actor Gen Padova said. When Benz first made her allegations in 2016, actor Dana DeArmond said on Twitter, “Brazzers owns the porn industry. Women have no other choice than to accept the abuse or not feed their families.”
Click here to read this piece by Ariane Lange in its entirety. Trigger warning.
Our sharing of this piece does not imply endorsement of Buzzfeed News nor of every view expressed in this piece.