Trigger warning: The following post contains graphic descriptions of abusive situations and porn genres.
Ever wondered what it’s really like to work in the porn industry, or if porn performers really love their jobs as much as they say they do? Maybe some do, but it’s becoming clearer all the time how exploitative the industry truly can be.
Recently, a comment on Reddit went viral under the thread “Pornstars of Reddit, what are the dirty secrets in your industry?” With over 18,400 upvotes, this one anonymous porn performer’s response got people talking.
It’s graphic, and we’ve edited for grammar, but it’s important the word gets out that the glamorized industry consumers see on screen is nothing like what really happens when the cameras stop recording—or even when they are rolling. Here’s what she said.
We lie to you.
We’re selling a product—the sex, the persona, whatever.
Like actors do press tours, everything a porn star (or any other kind of sex worker) does on social media is advertising to convince you to buy. So we tell you we love it, that we’re all a happy family, that we think you’re great and thank you for supporting us. Anything to make you click and pay. You would think I wouldn’t have to say this but unfortunately, you’re wrong. It’s not real a huge amount most of the time. We are paid to lie and behind the scenes, it can be very pressurized if you even let a little bit slip that makes things sound less than 100% happy-go-lucky sluts.
It’s incredibly stressful if you experience a scene you don’t want to do but can’t really tell anyone because people get pissed off when you ruin their fantasies or they don’t believe you because of the lies the industry sells that we’re all about sex all the time.
So much abuse. Drug abuse, emotional blackmail.
Rape is more common than anyone wants to acknowledge and one of the things that made me quit and get intense therapy was the knowledge of how many rape scenes are real. I experienced what was packaged as a “rough sex” scene, I had bruising and tears and it was traumatizing. I cried in the scene because my partner (who had his own issues, to be fair) was too big for me and not acting his roughness. Our buyers enjoyed it, I was told.
There are so many victims stuck in the industry.
You don’t know right away but then you talk, or you watch in between filming and you just know, you hear the rumors… Buyers have no idea except in the back of their minds that there are so many abused people stuck in the industry, and they don’t want to think about it because it ruins the fantasy.
But you have no idea what it does to you when you meet a very young guy glazed out of his poor mind, needing drugs to get [an erection], and underneath it all, you realize he’s scared and ashamed. Or the women who do so many scenes but who barely see any money from it, kept poor because keeping them poor keeps them stuck in the industry.
A lot of people work sick. Which is just uncomfortable.
So many scenes where someone is hurling into a bucket off-camera or running into the bathroom. Fainting isn’t uncommon. Weird sensations like numbness or tight chests or muscles which I guess is drugs or stress or exhaustion.
Other “stars” can be worse than the staff.
Because if you make the industry look bad, people start asking questions, they might lose buyers and money. They can push you more and sometimes get away with more under the guise of “encouragement” or “protecting [their] image.”
Young men from all over Asia are heavily exploited.
It breaks my heart. So many of these guys are so young and poor and put into uncomfortable gay male scenes.
The trends towards extremer and extremer acts is disturbing and makes me glad I am safe from it.
It’s worst in gay male and straight scenes. I have no experience of the former because I’m not a guy, but I’ve heard stories and seen enough footage. It’s just not healthy, emotionally or physically, where things are going. People have become normalized and desensitized to previous stuff, it’s not enough for them, or it gives them the taste for more. So now gaping, extreme stretching and prolapse porn is a very “hot” trend.
When you say this stuff, people send you death threats and rape threats, doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or girl.
You get told the vilest things. People are terrified of getting violent threats if they speak out.
Click here to read the original comment in its entirety. Link trigger warning, there are explicit issues discussed on this thread.
What if we told you her experience in the porn industry isn’t isolated?
Would you support a business if you knew that they abused some (but not all) of their employees? Pornographers don’t want you to think about it, but even if some of the humiliation, degradation, and sexual violence you see in porn is consensual, some is not.
Think about this: how do we know for sure that anyone in any porn content gives their consent for what happens to them?
Defenders of pornography make this argument all the time, that no matter how someone is treated in porn, it’s okay because they gave their consent. But what if he didn’t? What if she really didn’t want to be painfully dominated, humiliated, and sexually used for the world to see? The truth is, there’s often much more going on than what you see on the screen. That is, perhaps, the porn industry’s biggest, darkest secret: it’s not all consensual.
The question of consent
In porn, the question of consent can be tricky (and the growing phenomenon of amateur porn makes it even trickier).
For example, if one of the participants doesn’t know there’s a camera running, then the porn is not consensual, even if the sex is. Right? What if a person consented to be filmed, but not to have the film shown to anyone else? What if someone manipulated their partner into being filmed in the first place, like making him or her worry that they’d blackmail them if they didn’t cooperate? Or what if a person agreed to have sex, but in the middle, their partner suddenly started doing something that the person who initially gave consent didn’t expect? Did he or she still give consent? What if a specific video was filmed and shared consensually to one specific site, but then it was nonconsensually downloaded and shared elsewhere?
The point is, when you consume porn, there’s no way to know what kind of “consent” the actors have given. You can’t assume, just because someone appears in a porn video, that they knew beforehand exactly what would happen or that they had a real choice or the ability to stop what was being done.
We’re not claiming that all porn is nonconsensual. We’re simply pointing out that some of it is and some of it isn’t, and when you watch it there’s no clear way to know which is which.
So, would you buy from a company if you knew that some, but not all, of their products were made with child labor? Would you support a store that abused some, but not all, of their employees?
How can it be ethical to say that “porn is okay because participants give their consent,” when we know for a fact that some—probably much more than you think—do not?