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The Exploitation of Mia Khalifa is Proof of the Porn Industry’s Predatory Business Practices

By September 30, 2019 October 7th, 2019 No Comments
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Image credit to Mia Khalifa’s Instagram. 7-minute read.

FTND note: Mia’s social media content may be triggering to those recovering from a struggle with porn and objectification. We recommend not looking her up in any capacity.

TRIGGER WARNING

Mia Khalifa has become a controversial name both inside and out of the porn world. Near the end of 2014 at just 21 years old, she performed in about a dozen explicit adult films, made $12,000 in total before exiting the industry, and yet remains one of the “most-watched” performers in the world to date.

The problem is, she never wanted that title. Mia’s brief porn career was an impulsive act of rebellion, but after one of her videos went viral, she realized the reality of her decision: What is shared online, specifically to a tube site like Pornhub, lives forever.

Related: She’s One Of The Top Most-Searched Performers Years After Leaving Porn—See Why She Now Hates The Industry

Mia has been vocal before about her regrets of getting into porn. Recently, she has garnered media attention when she revealed how little money she made in comparison to her fame as the second most popular actress on Pornhub. Initially, the public shock was simply over her earnings, but the more Mia spoke, the more it became clear that her experience in professional porn is an example of how the industry “preys” on young women.

FTND note: Mia has worked to intentionally distance herself from the adult entertainment industry, though her social media content may be triggering for some who struggle with porn and objectification. Regardless of her past involvement with the mainstream porn industry, her experiences and perspective are worth listening to and considering, especially in a world where the porn industry is endlessly glamorized and celebrated. It is not necessary to agree with all of her personal choices, past or present, to see that she has been and continues to be exploited by the porn industry.

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Mia’s story

Mia Khalifa was born in Lebanon and raised in Maryland. As an immigrant child, she worried about fitting in and struggled with her weight until college. She looks back on these years of her life as a period when she didn’t know or value her self-worth.

While living in Florida, Mia was approached by a man who complimented her beauty and talked to her about modeling opportunities. When she visited the Bang Bros’ studio offices, she was showered with compliments and felt validated in a way she had been craving. The company, which actually produces explicit adult films, talked to her about performing in porn and gave her a contract.

“I was approached at a very vulnerable point in my life,” Khalifa said. “I went back and shot a scene, and it was terrifying and temporarily validating, but afterwards I felt a little empty. Though I still had that pit in my stomach where I wanted to chase that validation again… I think what made me go back and do it again was that the attention I was receiving, I was afraid it would go away if I didn’t do what I was asked to do.”

Related: WATCH: 5 Ex-Porn Performers Who Are Now Anti-Porn

Mia explained that it wasn’t about the money or fame. She called it her new side gig her “dirty little secret” and wanted to keep it quiet. With so much porn on the internet, her family, friends, and people she knew would never find out, right?

After a film of Khalifa performing sex acts in a hijab sealed her fame in Pornhub history, her secret was no longer her own. She reportedly received threats from ISIS sympathizers, her private information was shared online (known as doxxing), and she was alienated by her family, a relationship that is still slowly mending.

Mia said that deciding to leave the industry in 2015 after only a few months and a few videos was an easy one. The title “porn star” became one she couldn’t shake off, and she realized that her three-month decision would have lifelong effects.

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The unexpected fame of Mia Khalifa

Even though Mia Khalifa only spent a total of three months in the professional porn industry, a quick Google search of her name could lead anyone to misjudge that she was much more prolific.

Page after page of videos tagged with her name pop up as well as a website registered as her name to appear like a personal porn website. But Mia only initially starred in a dozen videos, so how are there now thousands?

RelatedPopular Male Porn Star Talks About The Difficulty Of Being A Part Of The Industry

When a performer attracts a lot of attention, production companies can capitalize on that popularity by releasing remixes and repurposed video compilations, attaching a well-known name to whatever clips they can. The tube sites also benefit from these practices. Sites like Pornhub have a download function, allowing consumers to easily save a video and reupload it later with any tag or name they want. Even though they may be duplicates, this continuous loop of videos dupe consumers into thinking Mia has performed in new content.

This cycle continues without Mia’s renewed consent. While she admits that she initially agreed to the contract, she said that she would now go back and change that decision if she could.

Rewriting her story

Consider how many people in the world experience regret for past decisions. That’s most people, right?

The difference with the porn industry, though, is the impossibility of Mia being able to erase those three months from her past. And she’s not alone. Three of the top ten actresses on Pornhub are now retired or inactive in the business. They have no ability to claim compensation for the infinite recycle of their content or have those videos removed.

This is something most performers don’t realize before signing on the dotted line. Make no mistake, it’s been reported that many producers intentionally write complicated contracts that performers are pressured into signing before they fully understand them.

Related: Creating Porn Performers & Ruining Lives: Real Confessions Of An Ex-Porn Producer

It’s clear that Mia’s latest media campaign is about changing the narrative of her life and scrubbing her image, but her experience does highlight the unethical practices some people within the porn industry use to convince young people to perform.

Again, she stated that she made her own decision to sign her performer contract, but Mia admitted she didn’t have the tools to identify that she was being taken advantage of.

“[Porn] corporations prey on callow young women and trap them legally into contracts when they’re vulnerable,” Mia said.

Normalizing Abuse Isnt Normal

 Exploitation in the porn industry

Perhaps the most important part of Mia speaking out, is her acknowledgement that while she wasn’t physically abused, many women and girls have since contacted her and shared their stories of exploitation.

Some of those girls had been victims of sex trafficking, some were coerced to perform in porn, and others pushed to sign contracts they didn’t understand.

The porn industry is so large that there are varying experiences from within, and Mia’s story is just one of those stories. Not every performer experiences abuse on set, but some do. Not every performer is motivated by the money, but most are, leading them to stay silent through painful and degrading acts. Some producers are considerate of their performers, but there are plenty who prey on young adults for money.

Related: 10 Popular Ex-Porn Performers Reveal The Brutal Truth Behind Their Most Famous Scenes

Some porn is made consensually, but some absolutely is not. This is perhaps one of the porn industry’s biggest secrets.

The most difficult part of all of these scenarios is deciphering which is which—what’s exploitative, and what’s coerced? The truth is, it is impossible to tell the difference.

As people in the world grow more aware that this exploitation exists everywhere around the world, what can be done? The power is in your choice, in clicks, in what you choose to or not to view.

Harness

Our society tends to be hypocritical when it comes to the porn industry. Ex-performers like Mia are shamed when they try to distance themselves from porn, but she’s victim-blamed either way she goes. Laws criminalize non-consensual images like revenge porn and yet they rank in searches on porn tubes. Our culture values sexual assault survivors but is deaf to the outcries of abused performers.

Columnist Yomi Adegoke noticed how our society brushes off the exploitation in porn. She wrote:

“Sexual abuse at the hands of music managers is a scandal; in porn, it is seen as a hazard of the job. We chastise the film industry for racially stereotyping characters, but barely blink at the wildly racist caricatures in porn… as though sexual desire mitigates any type of responsibility.”

It’s time we stop the demand at the source and refuse to fuel this exploitative industry.

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