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True Story: What It’s Really Like To Watch Porn For A Living

By March 13, 2017 June 15th, 2018 No Comments
This article was originally posted on Thought Catalog. It has been edited for clarity and content.

Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to real lives.

Porn is marketed as sexual fantasy, but before and after the cameras stop rolling, entire marketing teams of people work to maintain the glamorous image the industry tries to maintain. This real true story is from someone who is on the industry side of porn, and their account shows how porn is just a toxic product with no regard to the consumer.


This was many years ago, and I’ve moved on to other industries since then, but the first job I got out of college…the only job I could get…was working for a website that streamed adult videos on demand. They also had a phone sex floor, though thankfully I never worked there. It was one of the worst jobs I’ve ever had, but it also taught me a great deal in a very brief amount of time.

My job was a “Describer”…I would watch the videos all day long, take screenshots, and then try to write the most enticing copy that I could (which often all ended up sounding the same, and used far too many exclamation points). I got pretty good at it… I used to be able to get through about 20 movies a day.

I Had No Control

Most people would say half-jokingly to me that it must be fun to get paid for watching porn all day long. But then they’re shocked when I tell them that as a describer, you’re in no control of what kind you get to watch. And we had to watch it all—everything that’s legal in America, and sometimes stuff that wasn’t legal but which slipped through the cracks anyway, and which we had to report. I’ll leave it up to your imagination. I had quite an anthropological education that year.

(An interesting side note: what is considered “legal” as far as adult content providers are concerned is an extremely gray area. Of course, there is the obvious stuff that is just downright wrong…but if you look at the standard policy on any adult site which you have to agree to, what it states is that the content you’re viewing must be acceptable within your community. That community could mean your town, your church, your household…it’s completely up to interpretation.)

Regarding the second point, you might think that given the content, the people in charge would be the stereotypical drugged-out party animals like you see in the movies. Nothing could be further from the truth. They treated their content like you might treat couch cushions or blenders—it was all just product. They wore suits, had wives and kids, worked hard, and took it all very seriously.

Speaking of taking things seriously, I had never seen a company so serious about avoiding sexual harassment charges. It makes sense I suppose… a certain type of employee might consider the fact that he/she is watching adult videos all day long as an excuse to let that carry over into their work life, giving them permission for playful banter with fellow employees. But aside from what was on our screens, we were actually not allowed to have any X-rated materials displayed at our desks, on our walls, or anywhere within eyesight of another employee. From time to time we got calendars, posters, and other gear from the producers…but it was all thrown away, or employees could take it home. Our cubicles were just like any other office… except of course for what was on our monitors and in our headphones.

I Was Desensitized and Dehumanized

There were a few bonuses for working at a company like that. First, I’ve never had such good benefits in my life. The health insurance alone was so good, I got spoiled on it and have never been able to find benefits as decent (they paid a full 50% of all costs…I’ve never seen another employer do that). The holiday parties were extravagant, full-on gourmet feasts and live entertainment.

The saddest part about that job, once you got past your inhibitions about having to watch things you would never willfully explore on your own, was how desensitized you would become. It wasn’t just me—everyone I knew, the guys, the girls, whomever… started to feel that way as well. You could only do that job for so long before you began to feel sickened at the thought of coming into work.

That’s why when I finally was able to quit, I was over the moon with relief about it. I don’t think it matters how much you think you’d like a position like that…when you’re bombarded by that type of materials for ten hours a day, you’re going to burn out eventually. It’s too intense not to. If you don’t, you’re probably one of the people making the videos in the first place.

– I.

Why This Matters

As an anti-porn organization, we often hear arguments that try to defend porn. One of them sounding something like, “Porn is just watching people have sex—what could be more natural and normal than that?”

Actually, sex is natural and normal. Porn is something entirely different.

Make no mistake, porn is a product. Behind every single video is an entire team of people trying to target people just like you. Pornographers have a lot to gain by driving traffic to their sites, so they dress up their product to grab your attention. That “dressing up” is exactly what makes porn so unnatural—that, and the fact that it’s a massively escalating behavior that desensitizes consumers to the most inhumane and horrifying acts possible.

Professional porn performers have a whole team of people to make every detail look perfect, from directing and filming to lighting and makeup, maybe even a plastic surgeon or two to thank. With some careful editing, a typical 45-minute porn flick that took three days to shoot can appear to have happened all at once, without a break. Film the right bodies from the right angles at the right moments, edit out all the mistakes, Photoshop away any imperfections, add a catchy soundtrack, and you have something most definitely NOT like “natural” sex with “normal” people.

Porn is produced, but real love is natural.

What YOU Can Do

Spread the word on the harmful effects of watching pornography. SHARE this article to add your voice to this important conversation in society.

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