Penn State Law Professors Trot Out ‘Female Porn Leaders’ to Whitewash Realities of Adult Industry (explicit language)


NPN’s Jendi Reiter critiques Clay Calvert and Robert D. Richards, “Porn in Their Words: Female Leaders in the Adult Entertainment Industry Address Free Speech, Censorship, Feminism, Culture and the Mainstreaming of Adult Content” (PDF), published last year in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law [9 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 255 (2006)].

This article is part of the course materials assigned in Entertainment Law, a class taught by Professor Marc John Randazza at Barry University School of Law. Professor Randazza is an associate at Weston, Garrou, Dewitt & Walters, a firm that has profited from serving the adult industry for many years. His first citation of NPN in his blog said, “This is my response to the view in class that censorship is a disease of the right wing. Northampton is about the most liberal place in the country.” We look forward to a long and vigorous debate with adult industry lawyers like Professor Randazza and their students.


“Porn in Their Words” aims at undermining the feminist case against pornography by presenting the perspectives of five prominent women in the adult industry, based on interviews conducted by undergraduate and graduate students at the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment.

The authors, who are law professors at Pennsylvania State University, do not attempt to present an objective, balanced analysis of the debate. The first section of the article briefly quotes leading anti-porn academic feminists such as Catharine MacKinnon, Gail Dines and Rebecca Whisnant, as well as journalist Pamela Paul’s Pornified (a study, based on nationally representative polling data, of the porn viewing habits of heterosexual Americans aged 21-39 and the impact of porn on their relationships). Calvert and Richards make liberal use of words like “allegedly” and “purportedly” to suggest that these authors have no evidence for their belief that porn harms women.

“So how does all of this make the women who actually work in the adult entertainment industry feel about their chosen profession?” the authors ask (p.260). Simply framing the question this way already subtly skews the debate. Now the pornographers are the victims, not the aggressors. Those nasty anti-porn feminists are hurting their feelings! It is also far from proven that the women interviewed by the authors are representative of “women who actually work in the adult entertainment industry” in terms of power, privilege and viewpoint. Performing in porn films, the authors suggest, is a “chosen profession”, like going to law school–not, as is more often the case, a choice influenced (if not predetermined) by childhood sexual abuse, poverty, coercion, addictions, or sex-trafficking.

As D.A. Clarke wrote in Christine Sparks and Rebecca Whisnant’s anthology Not for Sale, most porn performers work under conditions more akin to sweatshop labor than to professional-level jobs. Sex workers receive very little of the profits made from their bodies; they have no social standing, no health care benefits, heightened risk for STDs and addictions, and little protection against sexual harassment and violence.

Calvert and Richards present anti-porn feminists as existing in the realm of pure theory, while their own article is based on the facts: “the women interviewed here who actually work and practice in the business and who confront firsthand, on a daily basis, issues of free speech and censorship.” (p.261) Much has been written about whether porn is better understood as speech or action, given that it records real things being done to women’s bodies. Even apart from that, the fact that these interviewees’ most pressing concern is their freedom of speech already puts them in a position of privilege compared to the average porn worker, who barely has the power to protect herself from sexual violence and disease.

Further down, the authors do admit that their interviewees are not a “representative sample of all women who work in the adult industry; rather, they represent leaders and veterans who bring a unique sense of perspective” (p.262). Nonetheless, the article would be more fair and credible if they had also spoken to prominent women who had a more critical view of the business, or who had repudiated their former stardom (as the late Linda Lovelace did).

The women interviewed for this article were Stormy Daniels, a contract star, writer and director for Wicked Pictures; Michelle Freridge, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, the nonprofit trade association of the adult industry; Nina Hartley, one of the most successful porn stars, who is also a nurse and the author of a popular sex manual; Joy King, the Wicked Pictures executive who helped make Jenna Jameson a superstar; and Sharon Mitchell, a doctor of human sexuality who founded and directs the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation (AIM), which provides HIV and STD testing and counseling to sex workers.

According to the article,

Sharon Mitchell comes to the job with special expertise and knowledge of her clientele. As her official AIM biography states, Mitchell “spent twenty-five years in the adult entertainment industry as an actress, appearing in over 2,000 movies, as a dancer performing in venues all over the world, and she has produced and directed over 42 movies.” Her life as an adult star was far different–far more wild, to say the least–than her life is today. As Mitchell once stated about her previous life before she went into drug rehabilitation and earned her doctorate, “my life was just bisexual-weird-insanity. And heroin and more heroin. And jail sentences and more movies and traveling. And young girls. And then old men.”

It is from this unique perspective, as an erstwhile porn star and one-time renegade turned health-care provider, that Mitchell now finds herself as a frequent commentator in the mainstream media on health-related issues affecting the adult industry. For instance, when the industry experienced a rare HIV-related scare in 2004 [more about this], Newsweek magazine wrote that it could have been “even worse, except for former porn actress Sharon Mitchell.” Newsweek then observed that “[s]uch is her power” in the adult industry that, when Mitchell asked production to halt to give her clinic time for further testing, “many agreed to the moratorium, at least temporarily.” (p.268-69)

Free Speech

The first interview topic was the women’s beliefs about free speech, censorship, and why adult entertainment should be protected. Daniels expresses support for opponents’ rights to protest outside porn stores; her attitude is basically “live and let live”. Freridge makes the somewhat inaccurate remark, “Why shouldn’t it [the First Amendment] protect adult entertainment? It protects everything unless specifically identified as not protecting it, not the other way around.” [For a more sophisticated view, see Harvard Law Professor Frederick Schauer]

Freridge defines the competing interests as the “civil rights of free speech and privacy in your home” versus the feeling that porn is offensive, and claims that the government does not have enough evidence to regulate porn as sex discrimination. Interestingly, she acknowledges that porn produced in other countries is often made under abusive conditions, but her solution is to keep America competitive by deregulating the adult industry. In Freridge’s words:

If the industry moves out of the United States into international venues, then we will lose tremendous gross domestic product, taxes, employment opportunities and other things that help drive the success and the economic health of our country. If those things happen, we lose, as a consumer society, almost complete control over content and how it is produced. If the industry is based in some place like Ukraine or Indonesia, which are the places where child pornography is coming from, you’re going to see a dramatic increase in the abuse of people who are being used as models. You’re going to see an increase in extreme content, the amount of violence, poor working conditions and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. (p.274)
Freridge’s patriotism is admirable but deluded. Her assumptions are flatly contradicted by the British charity National Children’s Homes, which reports that 55% of the Internet child porn industry is based in the United States, while Russia is second at 23%. NCH goes on to say that surveys of convicted paedophiles show that up to 70% were inspired after viewing child porn on the Internet. In Britain, some 550 child pornography offenders were either charged or warned in 2001, compared to 35 in 1988.

Freridge’s economic analysis excludes the well-documented risks that adult enterprises will lower neighborhood property values and attract crime, not to mention the lost productivity from the many porn addicts who surf adult sites at work.

Freridge is willing to accept some limits on porn films. Simulated rape and murder are no different from a Hollywood movie, but making films of actual rape and murder should not be allowed. “If an actual crime is, indeed, being committed, then you prosecute it as that crime, not as obscenity.” (p.275) This indeed would probably be a more fruitful approach for the government to take, especially if labor-law violations (unsafe working conditions) are also brought into the mix. By making this concession, Freridge opens the door to arguments that porn is not necessarily “just speech”.

Hartley describes how supportive California’s politicians have been to the industry (thanks to extensive lobbying and contributions). Adult entertainment “provides jobs and taxes, and is an industry of several hundred million dollars in California.” (p.275) Contrary to her belief, this doesn’t necessarily reflect well on the state’s leaders. We also note that Hollywood itself was motivated to pursue adult-use zoning after a severe flare-up of secondary effects there (crime, blight).

King, like Daniels, sees porn regulation as a matter of tolerating opposing viewpoints. No one is forcing anyone to watch porn. She’s right–unless you happen to be the child of a porn user, the victim of a sexual predator, a woman in a hostile workplace environment, or a neighbor of a porn shop with certain kinds of displays. Similarly, Mitchell makes the classic arguments that value-judgments about speech are inherently arbitrary and will lead to over-regulation of mainstream entertainment.

Feminism and Exploitation of Women

In introducing the interviewees’ views on this topic, Calvert and Richards say, “The adult entertainment industry long has been a target for the segment of the feminist movement that finds the product abusive and degrading to women, but even those staunch opponents must grapple with the industry’s increasing popularity.” (p.278) This sentence is typical of the authors’ intellectually dishonest method: rather than grapple with the research and arguments of anti-porn feminists, Calvert and Richards use rhetorical tricks to suggest that these women are marginal thinkers, out of touch with reality.

The popularity of porn, of course, has no logical connection to whether it also victimizes women. Slavery was equally mainstream in the 19th century. Some of the most revered founders of our country owned slaves. For that matter, 25% of girls today are estimated to suffer sexual abuse in their childhood. The prevalence doesn’t make it right.

Compared to the authors’ relentless cheerleading for the adult industry, the interviewees themselves have a more mixed view of how women are treated. Daniels distinguishes between the company she owns, and other segments of the porn industry where she does see exploitation. Even with respect to her company, she mainly speaks about her own working conditions, not those of her employees (“I’ve never done anything that I didn’t want to do”).

I think the Girls Gone Wild videos are way more detrimental than ours. Those girls are obviously inebriated and they show it on primetime TV–that’s telling your daughter that it’s okay to go to spring break, run around naked and put stuff in her for a free t-shirt. “But look, Dad, I got this t-shirt.” I just look at those, and I’m thinking, “And they think that what I do exploits women.” They take their clothes off for a t-shirt! They don’t even know what they’re doing. We, in contrast, have to sign paperwork–if you are drunk, they don’t shoot you; you know days ahead of time what you’re going to do. On Girls Gone Wild they have those girls doing all kinds of things to each other–I guarantee you there are some serious STDs going on.

It [working in adult movies] sounds like such a great idea. I was a little older when I got in. There are girls who are eighteen who actually are still in high school; I don’t agree with that because they don’t think long-term enough. I didn’t think long-term enough when I was eighteen–you’re just not ready. I was twenty-three when I did my first movie and that five years makes a huge difference. I think that they really have to realize that it’s not going to go away. I did this solo masturbation video probably two years before I made my first movie in the industry and it just resurfaced. It was just this little rinky-dink video for a website. Now that I’m a star, it comes out. That’s just an example. It’s not going to go away. Producers just want to suck in young talent and the girls don’t stop and think. (p.281-82)
Despite her opening statement that she’s never felt exploited, by the end of her anecdote, it’s clear that Daniels does feel the industry took advantage of her naivete to lead her into bad decisions that had lasting consequences.

Freridge expresses anger that anti-porn feminists don’t make room for a diversity of views on the issue:

I read the same books as they did, and I applied the lessons I learned from those books to my social interactions and to my involvement in adult entertainment, and I came to a completely different conclusion. Based on my experience as a woman and a sexual being, and my understanding that I had the right to decide for myself what to do with my life–that’s what I understood to be feminist, to give everybody choices–I didn’t choose to be a mother but I chose this because it suits me. I’m constantly insulted and enraged by these women who somehow, because I took a different tack than they did, now believe that I’m no feminist and, instead, are all the names that they call me simply because I made a different choice than they did. (p.283)
One doesn’t have to be a porn defender to sympathize with her observation that some of MacKinnon and Dworkin’s anti-porn rhetoric can be patronizing. Our liberal-individualist society, especially in academic legal discourse, is so much more comfortable with procedural objections (is this choice really free?) than substantive ones (is this choice moral or wise?) that anti-porn feminists have been tempted to stretch the definition of coercion beyond reasonable limits, invalidating some women’s personal experience.

In her essay in Not for Sale, Rebecca Whisnant offers a more helpful way to frame the issue:

Rather than always putting ‘choice’ and ‘consent’ in scare-quotes, we need to clarify what does and does not follow from the observation that something is a choice, or is consensual. That something is chosen or consensual is perfectly consistent with its being seriously oppressive, abusive, and harmful–to oneself and or to a broader group of which one is a member (e.g. women).
Calvert and Richards lump Whisnant in with MacKinnon and Dworkin despite significant differences in their approach, another example of this article’s superficial treatment of anti-porn feminism.

Freridge, unfortunately, is merely an extremist in the other direction. Free choice is the beginning and end of the discussion; when it comes to porn, society has no justification for saying that some choices are wrong. Her hostile epithets against MacKinnon et al. in the remainder of this interview are simply embarrassing.

King, like Daniels, admits that some companies exploit women, but not hers, she says. She sees the adult industry as one of the very few where women make more money than men and have the opportunity to reach a high-level position without an education. (That in itself is a sad commentary on opportunities for women in our society.) A common theme in these interviews is that there are “good” and “bad” porn companies. The good ones, the ones that the interviewees work for, treat their performers well and don’t make offensively violent films. The bad ones are ruining it for the rest of them, but in the end, there’s nothing to be done–freedom of choice trumps everything. King says:

You talk about freedom of speech and the industry at large pulling together and wanting to stand up and lobby, yet it is sort of a drag that there are companies that do things that make us look bad, make movies that aren’t sexual in nature and are just disgusting or gross–that have defecating or a new genre called “swirlies,” basically women who have their head in the toilet. That is not sexually appealing or attractive. Now, if I were a feminist, I could look at that and say, “That is degrading to women. What is interesting or sexy about that?” You’re always going to have people who push the envelope who are trying to make a statement and trying to get their sales up by doing something that’s out of the boundaries of what most of the mainstream adult companies do. On the one hand, I don’t like what they do. I don’t want to watch it and I wouldn’t buy it. On the other hand, I recognize they have the right to do it. So it’s not like the industry can stand up and say, “Hey, you shouldn’t do that.” We’d love for them not to–I would personally–but I don’t know how you can stand up and say that. (p.286)
How can women really feel “empowered” working in an industry that can’t even agree that it’s immoral to stick a woman’s head in a toilet [explicit link]? It’s no wonder that after exposing women to porn, one study found their desire to have daughters fell by more than half.

Mitchell doesn’t regret her background as a porn star, but observes that performers had more control over working conditions in her day: “I got to choose my partners.” (p.286) She sees naive young girls getting recruited into the industry with no idea how to protect themselves:

Now, I think the industry has changed so much that I think a lot of people don’t have those freedoms unless you’re extremely beautiful–youth and beauty rules. Agents now kind of rule the industry. Agents are now recruiting people from, literally, the middle of the country that are eighteen years old who haven’t remotely had any type of sex, let alone the type of sex they’re probably going to have tomorrow. You’ve got these girls who the agents tell, “This is just something you have to do–don’t worry, the odds are slim.” We’re trying to give them all of this counseling and to get them to take our video home to watch, because we know that they’re going to be back here next month with this, and that if they’re just starting out because the agents run them into the ground.

Literally, they [female actors] get over-exposed–the average lifespan of a porn star now is anywhere from six months to three years, tops, and then they’ve got no money. It’s a real trick bag when it comes to finance–they think the money’s not going to end, so they get a boob job and a Ferrari. If they make $400, they’re going to spend $300 on a pair of jeans. All of a sudden they are broke, they don’t know how to make a living and they don’t have any education. They’ve been kicking up their heels to make a couple of thousand dollars a day, and if they don’t have a plan, then they qualify for our life-after-porn program, which is a scholarship and a long-term counseling program to re-integrate them in to society.

It’s a long-term program–it takes almost two years. It takes someone who has basically been stuck in the porn industry–it doesn’t matter how long, stuck is stuck and it’s all relative. A lot of times people don’t know how to get out; they’re having to do more and more drastic things, they’re getting older, getting less pay and they haven’t had an education because they started so young. They really don’t know how to re-integrate into normal life. You can’t make a couple of thousand bucks fucking your friends and then walk into McDonald’s and have a thing like a boss and a minimum wage. “What is that? How am I supposed to live on that?” (p.287)
Mitchell clearly sees that the industry is a meat grinder for most of today’s performers, yet she feels she’s done enough by providing palliative care–rather like the psychiatrists in World War I who treated soldiers for shell-shock so they could return to the trenches.

Cultural Mainstreaming of Porn

Once again, the authors assume that the growing acceptance of porn testifies to its goodness and normalcy–the “everybody does it” defense. This is less an argument than a psychological tactic to make readers feel embarrassed about their potential discomfort with porn. They discuss the failure of recent obscenity prosecutions, and the involvement of many blue-chip companies in the adult industry:

The industry’s leading trade publication, Adult Video News, estimated revenues of $12.6 billion in the United States for 2005. Vivid Entertainment, the “nation’s largest producer of video pornography,”claims $100 million in annual revenue.

A significant portion of that revenue comes from mainstream corporations. As a New York Times special report on adult entertainment in 2000 discussed:

[t]he General Motors Corporation, the world’s largest company, now sells more graphic sex films every year than does Larry Flynt, owner of the Hustler empire. The 8.7 million Americans who subscribe to DirecTV, a General Motors subsidiary, buy nearly $200 million a year in pay-per-view sex films from satellite, according to estimates provided by distributors of the films, estimates the company did not dispute.
General Motors is just the tip of the iceberg. The hospitality industry–Marriott International, Hilton, On Command, and LodgeNet Entertainment, just to name a few–“have a big financial stake in adult films.” The revenue associated with these ventures is staggering. According to the Times’ special report, “[j]ust under 1.5 million hotel rooms, or about 40 percent of all hotel rooms in the nation, are equipped with television boxes that sell the kind of films that used to be seen mostly in adults-only theaters, according to the two leading companies in the business.” The hotel industry reports that “at least half of all guests buy these adult movies,” resulting in sales figures of “about $190 million a year.”

While many Americans may not freely admit to watching adult videos, the facts prove otherwise. Trade organizations that track video rentals report that “Americans buy or rent more than $4 billion a year worth of graphic sex videos from retail outlets and spend an additional $800 million on less explicit sexual films–all told, about 32 percent of the business for general-interest video retailers that carry adult topics.” (p.288-89)
The authors see this phenomenon as part of a positive trend towards a more tolerant, less moralistic view of sexuality in our culture. Some sex researchers and therapists, however, have suggested that it’s actually evidence of widespread sexual addiction.

Continuing the “everybody does it” theme, Daniels says:

I would say almost all of the people [use or rent porn], but they just don’t want to admit it. What kills me is when people come up to me and tell me what a sinner I am. I say “Well, how do you know who I am if you don’t watch it?” (p.291)
Freridge argues that “anti-sexual values that are rooted in religion and our puritanical culture” are the real motivation behind anti-porn feminism. Although “modern research” shows that sexual fantasy and expression are healthy, she says, we still feel that sex is dirty and we shouldn’t enjoy it. “By voting against laws for the industry but consuming the content, people get both needs met.” According to Freridge, if porn has gotten more hardcore over the past couple of decades (which she’s not conceding), it’s merely tracking the general envelope-pushing trend in movies, television and music. (p.292)

Hartley contends that porn can improve couples’ sex lives:

When I get marriage counselors saying that they have recommended some of my tapes to their couples, that is a big validation and something that I’m very pleased to hear because that’s one of the reasons I made the educational tapes. Sexuality permeates our culture. Madison Avenue and mega-churches are very clever at harnessing sexual guilt, fear, shame, ignorance, worry and taking that energy and putting it to their own use. I would like to help people harness that energy so they can put it to their use. Sometimes all you need is just a roadmap–this is okay, here’s how you do it, here’s what you pay attention to and you can do it too. Let’s face it, marriage is hard. Anything that keeps mom and dad interested in interacting in that way is a positive in my book. (p.294)
Even if this is true of Hartley’s better-sex videos, her work is very much in the minority in terms of supporting marriage. The average porn film is more likely to send messages that destroy relationships: fidelity is impossible or stifling, adultery improves a marriage [explicit link], violence is stimulating, promiscuity is more fulfilling than monogamy, and so on. Many books and articles have documented the role of porn addiction in breaking up marriages and relationships.

Exposure to porn has also been shown to have a negative impact on study participants’ desire to get married, their faith that marriages could last, and the value they placed on marriage as an institution.

Calvert and Richards’ article should be assigned to law students as an example of how not to write. Its methodology is sloppy and its treatment of ideological opponents is dishonest. It’s disappointing that such an article was published by a well-regarded law school, when it is devoid of original legal analysis and draws conclusions that are not even supported by the authors’ own research, let alone other social-scientific evidence. By the end of the article, anti-porn feminists have been smeared as sexually repressed, hypocritical, closed-minded, and emotionally abusive to women in the adult industry–all without ever engaging with their arguments or the data on which their views are based.

Calvert, Richards and their interviewees carefully avoid discussing the content of adult films, except when they want to distinguish their “good” porn from the supposedly unrepresentative “bad” porn that is tarnishing their good name. At the beginning of the article, the authors mention Pamela Paul’s Pornified, a comprehensively researched book about contemporary porn-viewing habits and their deleterious effects on relationships, in their introduction to the far more radical thinkers MacKinnon and Dworkin. Since the authors do not discuss the book any further, the reader might get the misimpression that Paul belongs to the same ideological camp as these radical feminists, when in fact her views are more properly categorized as mainstream-liberal, and her preferred solution is media education rather than censorship.

Calvert and Richards also selectively ignore their own data to present rosy conclusions that the interviews themselves do not support. Daniels, Mitchell and King all disclose disturbing anecdotes about women’s mistreatment by the industry, yet the authors persist in describing porn as harmless, normal and positive. They’re able to do this, in part, because they don’t present an up-front definition of “porn” or “the adult industry”. The interviewees are thus completely free to define “porn” as those aspects of the business that they feel comfortable defending–Nina Hartley’s sex tapes for couples, for instance–and dismiss other, more representative varieties (such as Girls Gone Wild videos or porn featuring violent scenarios) as outliers.

In short, this article is a misleading puff piece for the adult industry, masquerading as academic scholarship.


See also:

Martin Amis: “A rough trade” (explicit)
“Some girls are used in nine months or a year [says performer turned director Jonathan Morgan]. An 18-year-old, sweet young thing, signs with an agency, makes five films in her first week. Five directors, five actors, five times five: she gets phone calls. A hundred movies in four months. She’s not a fresh face any more. Her price slips and she stops getting phone calls. Then it’s, ‘Okay, will you do anal? Will you do gangbangs?’ Then they’re used up. They can’t even get a phone call. The market forces of this industry use them up.”

Jenna Jameson’s Tragic Backstory; Seeking Virgins with Paris Hilton
COOPER: …[I]f you had a daughter, if she came to you and said that she wanted to get into that industry?
JAMESON: I’d tie her in the closet. Only because this is such a hard industry for a woman to get ahead and get the respect that she deserves. I fought tooth and nail to get to where I am, and it’s not something that I would want my daughter to go through. It’s not something that any parent would choose for their child.

Porn Actresses: Most Careers Are Short, Few Are Lucrative (explicit language)
Although the industry is dependent on fans for survival, many of the respondents reported a fairly negative image of the imagined viewer… Ironically, then, actresses and actors are motivated in part to receive recognition from a group they know little about and often disparage. In addition, they reported little pride in the products they produce.

Lizzy Borden: We don’t shoot “all the lovey-dovey stuff that there’s not a big market for” (explicit language)
The idea that women don’t make good directors is a commonly held belief in the porn industry, [Borden] says, because women “shoot all the soft stuff, all the lovey-dovey stuff that there’s not a big market for. In the video stores, that’s not what you go see: You want to see hardcore ass-fucking, DP [double-penetration], cum, piss, shit, whatever you can.”

Condom Use Below 20% in American Porn Movies
“People these days really go for the shock value, for the high-risk stuff,” she said, “and that’s harder to do with a condom…”

Los Angeles Times: “In California’s Unregulated Porn Film Industry, an Alarming Number of Performers Are Infected With HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases. And Nobody Seems to Care.”
“[M]ost porn stars receive extra money–as little as $50 per sex act–if they forgo condoms.”

Feminists Confront Feminists O
ver Pornography

The unqualified defense of the pornography industry on the grounds of a concern for the rights of sexual minorities has been effective in many progressive communities concerned with individual rights and privacy, and protection from government interference. The defense resonates among some feminists, particularly in lesbian and gay communities, because of the rampant homophobia and heterosexism being spread by right-wing forces in the country…

These are real issues of concern. However, the uncritical acceptance of the defense of pornography needs more discussion… For instance, by referring to adult/child sexual relations as “intergenerational sex”, sexual liberals neutralize the power dynamics involved between adults and children, ignore sexual abuse, and minimize the illegal trafficking of children by labeling all those who raise questions “moralists”. By classifying women who work in the sex industry as members of a “sexual minority”, sexual liberals imply that the work is a voluntary activity, representative of the woman’s (or man’s) own freely chosen sexual identity and desire; they ignore the economic conditions of the sexual exchange, the social and economic power of the producers and consumers, and the poverty, economic exploitation, and sexual abuse that may underlie the lives of those involved in the sex industry (Jeffreys, 1990; Summer, 1987). This is not to deny the possibility that some women’s work and their sexual identities and desires are overlapping, but only to acknowledge that this automatic assumption evades the social and economic contexts of women’s work in the industry…

Academic Defenders of Porn Need to Engage with Reality (explicit language)
I have met hundreds of women and men who have stories to tell about pornography and the devastating impact it has had on their lives…

I have heard about what it is like to be coerced into making pornography by parents, brothers, uncles, boyfriends, husbands, and pimps. I have listened to women tell me about being raped and brutalized by men who wanted to reenact their favorite porn scene, and I have spent time with women who were gang-raped by their male “friends” after watching pornography. The women who tell their stories speak of the lasting effects that pornography has had on their lives…

In the world of scholarly discourse, these stories are contemptuously referred to as “anecdotal evidence”, first-person accounts that may make for interesting reading, but are not comparable with real scholarship. In a world cleansed of pain and passion, the realities of these people’s lives are lost in the maze of postmodern terminology and intellectual games…

Activist Strategies: Indiana Feminists Block “Girls Gone Wild”; Berlin Resident Fights Strip Club Liquor License with Remonstrance Petition
We, the undersigned, urge you to cancel the “Girls Gone Wild” event scheduled on January 26 at [location redacted]. As you know, the national promoter of GGW, Joe Francis, currently faces four felony counts related to prostitution, conspiracy, and offenses against minors. In addition, his company, Mantra Films, has been convicted in Federal Court of sexually exploiting children. You may be unaware, however, that local promoters of GGW events are also being prosecuted. A bar owner in Akron, Ohio is facing criminal charges after a GGW appearance earlier this month. Since this event promises to bring a known criminal element to Bloomington, we urge you to cancel this and any further appearances.

National Feminist Antipornography Movement
“As Jerome Tanner put it during a pornography directors’ roundtable discussion featured in Adult Video News, ‘People just want it harder, harder, and harder, because like Ron said, what are you gonna do next?’ Another director, Jules Jordan, was blunt about his task: ‘[O]ne of the things about today’s porn and the extreme market, the gonzo market, so many fans want to see so much more extreme stuff that I’m always trying to figure out ways to do something different. But it seems everybody wants to see a girl doing a d.p. [double penetration] now or a gangbang. For certain girls, that’s great, and I like to see that for certain people, but a lot of fans are becoming a lot more demanding about wanting to see the more extreme stuff. It’s definitely brought porn somewhere, but I don’t know where it’s headed from there.’

“…even the toughest women–women who at rape crisis centers routinely deal with sexual violence–find the reality of pornography so difficult to cope with. No matter how hard it may be to face the reality of a rape culture, at least the culture still brands rape as a crime. Pornography, however, is not only widely accepted but sold to us as liberation….

“[Pornographers] would prefer that none of these issues even be discussed in public. In recent years, their strategies for cutting off that discussion have been remarkably successful. When we criticize pornography, we typically are told we are either sexually dysfunctional prudes who are scared of sex, or people who hate freedom, or both. That works to keep many people quiet. The pornographers desperately want to keep people from asking the simple question: What kind of society would turn the injury and degradation of some into sexual pleasure for others? What kind of people does that make us–the men who learn to find pleasure this way, and the women who learn to accept it?…

“To criticize pornography is not repressive. To speak about what one knows and feels and dreams is, in fact, liberating. We are not free if we aren’t free to talk about our desire for an egalitarian intimacy and sexuality that would reject pain and humiliation.

“That is not prudishness or censorship. It is at attempt to claim the best parts of our common humanity–love, caring, empathy, solidarity. To do that is not to limit anyone. It is to say that people matter more than the profits of pornographers and the pleasure of pornography consumers. It is to say, simply, that women count as much as men.”

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