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Shaming and Victim-Blaming Porn Performers Is Never Acceptable or Necessary

As an organization, we do not believe anyone deserves to be raped or abused, ever, even if they consensually chose to be in porn and were subsequently exploited.

By September 21, 2022No Comments

If there’s one thing the porn industry is good at, it’s distracting people from the real harm their product is doing to both consumers and those who participate in its production.

Porn companies tell customers that porn allows people to explore their deepest desires and be free from the sexual limits of society, but they leave out the part about it being a potentially addictive, escalating behavior that contributes to an industry of sexual exploitation.

They also leave out the part where they refuse to take responsibility for the toxic victim-blaming culture they’ve fueled.

Related: Mia Khalifa’s Story Shows How Predatory the Porn Industry Is

Does every porn performer sign up to do porn with the full knowledge and understanding of what they’re doing?

A common argument we see whenever we talk about ex-performers and their traumatic experiences in the porn industry is that these people “deserve whatever happens to them” because they agreed to be in porn.

Take a look at these comments, all taken from posts on our Facebook page about former porn performers:

Basically, these arguments boil down to a line of thinking that goes something like this: “They signed up for porn, so they deserved the abuse they received. If they’re upset about what they experienced, too bad. They asked for it.”

Let’s talk about why this logic is not only flawed, it’s extremely toxic.

Related: OnlyFans Reportedly has Lax Moderation and Underage Content, BBC Investigation Finds

Legally, an adult can make decisions for themselves according to their own career paths and their own sexual activity, which leads a lot of people to judge porn performers because they assume it’s a job like any other. They assume performers work in the porn industry and have sex on camera because they want to express their sexuality, get cash, and be famous. Right?

So, if porn performers get hired and paid similar to any other employee, do they directly bring the pain and abuse that comes from starring in pornography on themselves? Did they deserve it?

No. And here’s why.

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No one deserves abuse, ever

No one deserves to be abused and exploited, regardless of their personal choices—porn performers included.

Think about it. It’s not that simple. Too many performers don’t know or truly understand the extent of what they’re signing up for. (And even if they did know, they still don’t deserve to be mistreated.)

And even if they read on paper that they’ll be having sex on camera, they still might not have the full details of what that entails. There is a difference between consent, and fully-informed consent—and either of those can be revoked at any time for any reason. If these things aren’t truly able to be revoked at any time, it’s not actually consent.

Related: “I Didn’t Know If They’d Kill Me”: What Happened When This Jane Doe was Trafficked by GirlsDoPorn

When performers sign on to work in porn, the agents, managers, or fellow performers around them are very likely not fully explaining the reality of what it means to perform in porn.

Because of this, many new performers don’t fully know or understand what agreeing to do porn can lead to—sexual abuse, physical abuse, coercion, injuries, disease, difficulty finding a different job after they leave the industry, among many other challenges.

And why would they know any of this terrifying information about the supposedly cool, fun job they’re signing up for? Don’t forget that we live in a world that glamorizes and celebrates the porn industry, and the porn industry itself is not honest about what being a porn performer really entails. It’s sold as an exciting, sexy lifestyle where you can be a sex symbol and get cash for it.

Related: How Porn Performers Can be Sex Trafficked Without Realizing It

Let’s not forget about the many accounts of young women who are told that they are simply going to be models only to be thrown into the underbelly of the amateur porn world without understanding what they’ve gotten into. These situations are more than exploitation, they’re actually sex trafficking.

There, without legal protection, they can be beaten, abused, blackmailed, and/or coerced into dangerous situations.

Let’s also not forget about the victims of sex trafficking who have had their exploitation filmed and uploaded to porn sites.

No matter how they ended up on the other side of the camera, or if they’ve ever given consent, do these people not have the right to change their minds? Does anyone truly deserve to be sexually exploited?

Shouldn’t we have compassion for those who find themselves in a situation in which they no longer want to be—despite their initial reason for involvement in an industry that doesn’t care whether or not they still want to be a part of it?

Too many people don’t understand the true cost of being a performer.

What many people don’t take into account is the vast amount of exploitation that occurs in the porn industry.

Sadly, as one example, many former porn performers talk about being forced to have sex with their bosses in order to get more work in the industry.

Many people don’t realize that it is not an industry requirement for condoms to be used in sex scenes, which means that there is a high likelihood that performers will contract STDs at some point in their porn career.

Related: Real Stories of Sex Trafficking in the Porn Industry (VIDEO)

Many people in our porn-obsessed society don’t understand that getting involved in pornography usually means getting involved with drugs.

Producers will sometimes encourage or coerce performers to use drugs in order to numb the pain of extreme sex acts, or prolong erections for male performers. That can mean a lifelong addiction to substances, or a need for performance-enhancing pills even outside of the porn set.

Related: How the Porn Industry Profits From Nonconsensual Content and Abuse

Many people don’t realize the physical abuse that can accompany the paycheck. And not only that, they don’t realize that consent is a tricky issue, especially within the porn industry.

In fact, when someone consumes porn, there’s no real way to know what kind of “consent” the performers have given. Consumers 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, or that the moment they revoked their consent wasn’t edited out of a film that was posted anyway.

Check out ex-porn performer Alexandra Read’s account of being whipped and caned for 35 minutes, all for a porn scene:

“I’ve never received a beating like that before in my life… I have permanent scars up and down the backs of my thighs. It was all things that I had consented to, but I didn’t know quite the brutality of what was about to happen to me until I was in it.”

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And this was after she was told what they were going to do, but she still didn’t fully know what was about to happen.

The industry is full of experiences like Alexandra Read’s, and we as a society cannot fail to have compassion for people who have experienced harm and exploitation at the hands of pornographers—no matter which side of the screen they’re on.

“If they’re being mistreated, why don’t porn performers just leave?”

The porn industry is cutthroat and competitive. There is more pressure for new performers to agree to more extreme, violent sex acts because of how the industry is evolving.

And desperate performers will often agree because the pay is better for those kinds of scenes—even if some of their paychecks will go to pay for the medical expenses that result from the physical trauma they experience.

In the porn world, saying “no” to certain scenes or sex acts is usually respected for a limited amount of time, and independent production companies who can be more flexible with performers do not make nearly as much money as more mainstream studios, who may consider more extreme and violent scenes as “normal.” Not to mention, porn companies have access to explicit content of performers and can whatever they want with it, which can lead to fear of blackmail or manipulation for when performers try to leave.

Related: 50 “GirlsDoPorn” Sex Trafficking Survivors Sue Pornhub’s Parent Company for Profiting from Their Exploitation

Performers may not fully understand, the difficulty getting hired in professional atmospheres after they’ve worked in the porn industry, especially if they’re going into the industry to pay off student loans or to make some quick cash.

This can lead to a vicious cycle of continuing to turn to porn because they’re boxed in, only to create more content that could hurt future employment chances.

And consider the fact that sex trafficking and sexual exploitation can still happen even if a performer accepts a paycheck for it and sleeps in their own bed at the end of the day. Kidnapping and being held at gunpoint are not required for someone to have experienced sex trafficking.

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“Companies are allowed to turn you down for work because of anything they want,” explains ex-porn performer Bree Olsen. “You can never work with children after you do porn. You can never work in the medical field after you do porn.”

But do these people truly deserve to be shamed, judged, and trash-talked the rest of their lives, especially if they’ve decided to leave the industry for good, only to be plagued by the decision they made in the past?

Related: Instagram Removed Pornhub’s Account

We can’t forget that our society celebrates pornography and considers it normal, so is it any surprise that performers, most of them in their early twenties, are be shocked when they learn the reality of the industry for themselves?

Watch Alia’s story to understand how trafficking can happen to professional, award-winning performers.

Let’s all stop playing the blame game.

So many people who further dehumanize people in porn, even those who are well-meaning in the fight against exploitation, add to the pain that the toxic porn industry fuels in society by blaming porn performers for the abuse that they are put through, all because they “signed up for it.”

Related: Popular Ex-Porn Star Lana Rhoades Says She was “Taken Advantage Of” While Doing Porn

Right now, we invite you to think of a time where your expectations were not met—was it a terrible blind date? Or a stupid movie you went to go see? Or a disappointing bite of a pumpkin-spice flavored Oreo?

Is it so crazy to think that someone who signed up for the glamorized and misrepresented porn-industry lifestyle would want to change their mind upon learning the reality of what they were stepping into?

Even one of the most searched-for and most-watched porn performers, Lana Rhoades, said she was exploited while she was in the mainstream industry.

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We’ve likely all heard the assumption that the performers who choose to work in the pornography business “bring this pain on themselves,” and even that they somehow deserve to be mistreated because of that choice.

Let us be clear here: As an organization, we do not believe anyone deserves to be raped or abused, ever. Full stop. Even if they chose to be in porn consensually, and even if they consensually perform in porn to this day.

The difficult thing is there’s no viable way to tell who is consenting, and who isn’t. And, again, even for those who consensually perform in porn, they do not deserve to be abused or exploited. Ever.

Related: The Porn Industry Doesn’t Just Sell Sex, It Sells Violent Abuse of Women

We believe in fighting for love. We are part of a movement that brings hope and humanity to the difficult issue of pornography. And saying that someone deserves to be abused because of his or her choice of profession is also a form of abuse and victim-blaming.

“When I go out, I feel as if I’m wearing ‘slut’ across my forehead,” Olsen continued. “The names people have called me, it’s as if you could take out those names and print them and put a ribbon around my whole body.”

Let us not be a people who further perpetuate the toxicity porn produces in society. Let us be a people who fight for love and healthy relationships for everyone, whether they’ve been directly exploited at the hands of the porn industry or not.

Let’s be people who treat people like people, whether we agree with their personal choices or not.

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