fbpx Skip to main content
BlogFeatureWorld

Porn Performers Do Not Deserve the Abuse Many of Them Experience, Here’s Why

We don’t need to tear other humans down to give visibility to the proven harmful effects of pornography, even if someone is a performer.

By September 15, 2021No Comments
what-porn-performers-think-when-theyre-having-sex-on-camera-girl-eyes-look-real-look-into-porn-industry

In the porn industry, there is no clear-cut distinction between who has experienced sexual exploitation and who hasn’t.

And yet, one of the most common criticisms we hear is that porn performers like what they are doing and that if they didn’t, then they wouldn’t be in the industry.

Many people believe those in the adult entertainment industry love to have sex and get paid for it. No one’s getting hurt when I watch porn, is a common thought pattern many consumers have. And, we get it. Why would you have any reason to believe that the mainstream porn industry is anything less than professional, fun, safe, and sexy?

Regardless of the overwhelming research and countless personal accounts exposing that nonconsensual content is not uncommon on porn sites, many consumers still buy into the glamorous fantasy the porn industry and its supporters work to maintain.

screenshot

“Porn hurts nobody.” “They do it because they like to do it.” “I don’t feel badly for those who went into porn voluntarily.” “She’s an adult, she made the choice.”

These are just a few popular perceptions that many people in our society have when it comes to pornography. But not everything is as it appears in the porn industry.

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

The fact is, the commercial sex industry—including performing in porn—is often a last resort for people who are financially desperate, or they’re coerced into it by some other means.

This is not necessarily true for every single porn performer, but many of them have experienced this. Selling sex, whether on camera or not, is often the choice for those who have the fewest choices.

Store - Trafficking

As one sex industry survivor, Harmony Grillo, said:

“The mentality that every performer is simply a consenting adult who ‘knew what they were getting into’ creates barriers that prevent people from seeing the complexities of the dynamics that lead people to porn or other areas of the sex industry. Through this lens, it is easier to withhold empathy—and even worse, it’s easier to judge. Some who hear of the atrocities a woman (or man) in porn experiences may hold the opinion that it was ‘her choice, and her fault.'”

Consider that while active porn performers rarely, if ever, speak out due to fear of being blacklisted in the industry or being discriminated against, the majority of those very same performers inevitably end up speaking out on their real experiences once they leave the industry.

These personal accounts are very often a stark contrast from our culture’s narrative about porn. And for those who do decide to leave, the porn industry still has every image and video clip that the person can never get back.

Related: The Exploitation Of Mia Khalifa Is Proof Of The Porn Industry’s Predatory Business Practices

For those on the outside of the industry, it’s easy to uphold the stigma that porn performers face in their daily lives.

But let’s look at things from a different angle, and consider what the average performer likely knew (and didn’t know) before stepping into an industry that’s celebrated, glorified, normalized, and glamorized in our culture.

BHW - General

Violence isn’t a fringe experience in porn, it’s often the goal

The porn industry increasingly capitalizes on content that deviates from what more tame, “conventional” sex entails. In porn, violent images aren’t a passive byproduct, they’re the goal.

As few as 1 in 3 and as many as 9 in 10 porn videos depict sexual violence or aggression, research finds.

Consider one 2020 study that entailed a large-scale content analysis and coding of a sample of 7,430 pornographic videos taken from the two most popular free porn sites, Pornhub and XvideosThe study found physical aggression against women present in 44.3% of Pornhub and 33.9% of Xvideos scenes. In fact, the study found that physical aggression was substantially more common in online pornographic videos than verbal aggression. Specifically, women were the target of nearly 97% of all physically aggressive acts in the samples from both sites.

A study done a few years ago analyzed 304 popular porn films and found that 88% of them contained physical violence and 49% of them included verbal aggression. And the women in the films, the majority of the recipients of the abuse, were shown as either neutral or enjoying the abuse.

Related: Some of Porn Is Consensual, But Some Absolutely Isn’t

In April 2021, the largest study of online pornography to date was published in The British Journal of Criminology, and it raises urgent questions about the extent of sexually violent, nonconsensual, and even criminal material easily and freely available on mainstream porn websites. Over a six-month period, researchers analyzed the homepages of the three most popular porn websites—Pornhub, XVideos, and XHamster. 131,738 videos were surveyed—the largest sample used in a study to date.

The study concluded that 1 in 8 video titles alone shown to first-time users on the homepages was labeled with text describing sexually violent acts.

Clearly, violence in porn isn’t an exception.

But all that violence is happening to real human beings. Some are actual victims of abuse who have had their videos uploaded to porn sites, some are professional porn performers who have signed contracts and consented to abusive scenes. But sometimes, these scenes can go far beyond what they agreed to. Even porn performers can be traumatized, too.

No, not all of them are victims and not all of them have been victimized, but many have, and they are as deserving of empathy as any other survivor of abuse.

Store - CBC

Here is one true story from a former porn performer, Alex, that shows just how violent the industry is:

“[One particular film] was the most brutal, depressing, scary scene that I have ever done. I have tried to block it out from my memory due to the severe abuse that I received during the filming. The [male performer] has a natural hatred towards women, in the sense that he has always been known to be more brutal than ever needed. I agreed to do the scene, thinking it was less beating except for a punch in the head. If you noticed, [he] had worn his solid gold ring the entire time and continued to punch me with it. I actually stopped the scene while it was being filmed because I was in too much pain.”

In our research, we found that the viciousness of the film Alex is talking about caused the distributor to forego covering any further releases from the film studio. A critic on a popular porn review site wrote that the film was “one of the most morally repugnant pornographic movies I have seen” and “is the sort of movie that the government would cite when trying to arrest pornographers and outlaw pornography.”

Also, consider the story of Alia who was a mainstream performer and did not realize she was sex trafficked and exploited until she left the industry.

The effects of sexual trauma are real. And sometimes, those victims of violence are porn performers themselves. Their experiences of abuse, even though they’re in the industry, should not be minimized when they happen.

Victims of sexual assault commonly experience depression, anxiety, flashbacks, PTSD, and sometimes suicidal tendenices. And remember, someone can be raped, assaulted, and abused, even if cameras are rolling on a porn set. A porn performer can still be raped and abused even if they’ve signed a contract, even if they’ve previously agreed to a sex act, and even if they’re receiving pay for a sex act. The inherent harms of rape, assault, and abuse are not negated just because they might happen under the circumstances of the commercial sex industry.

Again, consider the long-standing stigma around porn performers that they cannot be abused because of the nature of their work. Many critics ask, “What did they expect would happen?”

But this line of thinking is like the toxic idea that women who have been raped must have encouraged it by wearing a short skirt or tight clothes. Both are victim-blaming, and neither are okay.

No matter the industry, no matter the person, no one deserves to be sexually harassed or assaulted. Mistreatment should never be expected because of a job, even for those who voluntarily enter the porn industry.

We can do better than blame abuse victims—they deserve better than that. Consider porn’s glamorous perception in society, and how people likely didn’t fully know about the possibility of assault or rape off and on set before signing up to perform in porn.

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

Store - Trafficking

Why This Matters

Keep in mind that often, people turn to porn out of financial desperation or coercion, and are kept in this industry because they have nowhere else to go. (Also keep in mind that someone be trafficked, by legal definition, and sexually exploited while still receiving a paycheck and sleeping in their own bed at the end of the day. Trafficking does not require physical chains and being transported  to a faraway country.)

And consider that the pervasive stigma performers often face in society that they are “bad people,” they’re “disgusting,” untrustworthy, or that they “deserve” whatever mistreatment they endured while in the industry is not encouraging for someone who is considering finally leaving porn and trying other careers.

Producing porn often involves the violation and exploitation of real human beings. No, not every performer is abused, and not every pornographic video involves exploitation. But many do, and it can be difficult if not impossible to distinguish between consensual and nonconsensual content.

Related: If A Porn Performer Is Abused During Filming, Where Do They Report It?

The harms of porn aren’t just confined to the ones in front of the camera or behind the screen. There is a growing body of research that shows how consumers, relationships, and society are all harmed by porn.

This isn’t a moral argument, it’s simply something to consider, given the facts. Click here to read more about the proven harmful effects of porn, and make a decision for yourself about whether you want to support and contribute to it.

These men, women, and non-binary folks in the porn industry are human beings, and they don’t deserve to be degraded and treated like objects. Part of fighting for love is spreading awareness on the harms of the porn industry, and the lives that it destroys. Clicking pornography is contributing to the demand for more stories like these to happen to real people.

Related: Joshua’s Story: Why I Left The Porn Industry After Winning Awards And Performing In Over 1,000 Films

In support of the women and men around the world who have actually suffered the abuse shown in pornography, consider your language before speaking about those in the industry. There is no room for shame in this movement for love, even for those who voluntarily perform in and participate in the porn industry.

We don’t need to tear other humans down to elevate and give more visibility to the proven harmful effects of pornography.

Consider before consuming, and fight for real love.

Send this to a friend