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How the Porn Industry Affects Performers Long After Their Careers End

By August 2, 2019 February 20th, 2020 No Comments

Porn is popular. And if there was any doubt about that before, there definitely isn’t now.

Porn sites get more visitors than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. It’s a global, estimated $97 billion industry, with about $12 billion of that coming from the U.S. alone. Stats from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation show that 64% of people ages 13–24 actively looked for pornography every week or more. Wow.

But even with all that popularity, there is still a massive stigma against porn performers—ever wonder why most of them have stage names? The fact is, being on the other side of the screen in a pornographic video leaves its mark on performers to the point they are often stigmatized for the rest of their life and carry other lifelong negative impacts with them.

Is there any way they could have fully understood what they were getting into before they signed up—persuaded or coerced—to be in porn?

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The “glamorous” porn life

Porn companies often have a lot of shady business practices. At times, performers are roped in with promises of glamorous lifestyles, fun “opportunities,” and a promised easy transition into the mainstream media. But it’s never as easy as they promote it to be, and there is a lot of undisclosed toxicity and harm along the way.

We’re not here to analyze or be the judge, jury, and executioner for the reasons why people get into porn, because everyone’s story is different and it’s usually someone who has very little to no idea about what they’re getting into. Some people go into it thinking they’ll make a huge, successful career. Some people get into it as an attempt to advance a modeling or acting career or pay the bills on the side. Some were tricked into porn by manipulative producers. Some people are in it because they were coerced and trafficked into it.

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

Just because someone is a porn performer doesn’t mean that they like it or asked for it, or deserve the mistreatment they often get on and off-set. But once you’re in, it’s pretty difficult to completely leave the industry behind.

Once you’re in, you’re in

Sometimes porn performers will leave the industry because of the negatives that come along with performing in porn.

Especially if someone is new to the industry, it’s getting increasingly difficult to make money in porn without doing painful, extreme scenes because of the availability of free porn on tube sites. And with more extreme porn comes increased risks of physical abusenon-consensual violencehigh likelihood of STIs because of lack of protection, drug usage to cope with the toxic lifestyle and pain of performing, and mental abuse or illnesses that can arise during a developing porn career.

Related: How Shaming And Victim-Blaming Porn Performers Adds To Their Mistreatment

More recently, it has been a little bit easier for performers to transition into mainstream media, modeling, and film work, but it’s still a common story for employers to find out about a performer’s past and either not want to employ them or just simply fire them. Performers often face discrimination in the workforce, but they also just have to face a world that suggests that any awful thing they’ve gone through, they’ve brought upon themselves. The victim-blaming mentality is that “if they signed up for it, they deserve what they’ve gone through.”

The fact is, moving on personally and professionally post-porn is not easy.

Part of the problem is the popularity of porn. How can performers move away from pornography when explicit videos of them are watched over and over and over again by people all over the world, all with a simple search and a single click?

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Getting out into mainstream society

“When I go out, I feel as if I’m wearing ‘slut’ across my forehead,” said Rachel Marie Oberlin in a video interview, describing life now that she has left the porn industry. “I have really gotten to the point where there are days to weeks at time where I don’t leave the house because I don’t feel like facing the world.”

In the video, Oberlin says that she feels like her job will stay with her forever, and it’s not worth it. She wants to be treated like a real person with a regular life now that she’s tried to leave all that behind. Instead, she feels pigeon-holed and stuck doing similar things.

RelatedHow Teen Girls Get Tricked And Trafficked Every Day Into Doing Porn

Her story gives us a glimpse into the reality of what it’s like to be in porn, and what it’s like to leave. Even though it’s a widely celebrated, normalized industry, it’s a career that will stay with someone for their life once they’re in it. Porn performers are still human beings that deserve to be treated fairly, it’s no secret that there are consequences to producing and starring in porn.

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Treating people like people

In the end, we believe every person considering the life of a porn performer deserves to know the harsh realities of what they’re signing up for, and every consumer deserves to know about the toxic industry of what they’re contributing with clicks, views, and downloads.

In the end, based on the anecdotal and empirical evidence, watching and performing aren’t worth it. We strive to live in a world that’s fueled by and focused on real love, real people, and humanizing anyone and everyone on both sides of the screen.

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