In reaction to the perpetual introductory question, ‘Why did you become a porn star?’ or, ‘What is the main pro of being a porn star?’ many adult actresses unhesitatingly try to familiarize the interviewer and the audience to how the adult industry provides its employees with an inimitable opportunity to gain empowerment through candidly expressing and enjoying their sexuality.
Take Jayden James’ resolute response to AdultDVDTalk’s Captain Jack in 2013 as an example, “The major pro [of porn] is women’s empowerment. A majority of the population thinks that porn is degrading to women, but it’s the complete opposite. We’re independent women proving to ourselves and the world that we, too, can enjoy sex for what it is … exhilarating!”
She condenses, “We say who; we say when; and we say how much. We own every minute of it, even if we’re tied up and acting like we don’t want it.”
Tremors of a feministic framework are there for all to see. Yet, it could still be inferred that the apparent therapeutic benefits of being a pornographic performer remain ambiguous. Consequently, for the welfare of context, the inclusion of ex porn-star and current artist, Satine Pheonix’s recent affirmation to news.com.au is incumbent on me.
“My dad molested me for ten years, nine years, on and off. That specific style of sexual empowerment – being able to wield sexuality as power – I needed to do that in order to be able to turn into the woman I am now.”
“I was in control. I was picking this guy and that guy to do.”
Subsequently, is it patronisingly bigoted to equate the foundations of Jaymes’ or Pheonix’s occupational intentions to self-focused escapism while internalizing how, certainly in Pheonix’s case, such escapist yearnings were driven by agonizingly nauseating circumstances?
Do or did they long to carve and claw out an impermanent escape-route just about big enough for themselves? Or are/were they sincerely inspired by the opportunity to generate portals which could teleport their female audience above a self-contradictory cultural scale that reveres disingenuous, sexually-hedonistic males with one hand while denigrating philandering women with the other?
In point of fact, Jaymes’ concluding declaration, “I will never date someone who thinks they’re with Jayden Jaymes. Jayden does not exist outside of the porn world. And it’s very easy for me to distinguish between someone who is a fan of Jayden and someone who is interested in me” exposes the superficiality engrained within the aforementioned claims.
There is no such thing as: “the porn world”. Porn is not a world; it is a $97 billion industry that propels a product into every demographic on the one, ubiquitous world we all inhabit. According to Jerry Ropelato of Internet Filter Review, that product is then viewed by approximately 28, 258 internet users every second. Frighteningly, this figure is outdated by almost 7 years and thus predates not only the smartphone-induced mobile porn epidemic, but also the launch of MindGeek. MindGeek is an uncontested oligarch which is, ‘among the top three bandwidth consumption companies on earth’. It owns Pornhub, YouPorn, RedTube, Reality Kings, and Brazzers. The latter two collectively own approximately 68 pornographic websites alone.
Secondly, without trying to pontificate, one is not “proving” anything by being someone who conciliates their conscience in the workplace, and then slings any scintilla of their superego in the domestic/social sphere, or vice versa. One cannot voice sincere solidarity for sexually shackled women while failing to establish solidarity within themselves. As preposterously normalized as it is, dualism breeds inherent discontentedness, or more specifically – ‘cognitive dissonance’ – which in turn, is all-too-frequently the chief instigator of subsidiary mental illnesses.
Thirdly, if Jaymes truly, “owned every minute” of her employments in the porn industry, why would she long to disassociate herself from her work?
Notwithstanding marketable bravado, the truth is, irrespective of whether a performer has a net worth of $1.6m like Jayden Jaymes or something substantially smaller, the actresses’ preferences or intentions are inexhaustibly marginalized by mostly male directors and editors. Male directors and editors who represent an outlook as unfeeling as owner of 21 Sexury Video, Carlo Scalisi’s: “Amateurs come across better on screen. Our customers feel that. Especially by women you can see it. They still feel strong pain.”
“No matter how many good intentions I had, the editor always made me look like a mindless slut. I’ve seen some of my own porn, and I was just like, ‘I can’t.’ What you see of my porn is not me, it’s this other image that’s taken out of me and put into the universe.” – Satine Pheonix.
Fundamentally, the vast majority of pornographic videos do not document intimacy or sensuality. More often than not, caressing, hugging, and kissing are forbidden. Instead, as gender studies scholar, Ran Gavrieli unveiled during his TED talk, Why I Stopped Watching Porn, “What porn cameras are into is the penetration. So normally the composition would be one man and one woman and the man is standing there with his hands behind his back to not block the camera. The only parts that are actually touching each other are the penis and the part being penetrated.” Crucially, if a production does not adhere to this perverted principle, then touching usually comes in the form of choking or punching.
“Guys are punching you in the face. You get ripped. Your insides can come out of you. It’s never ending.” – Tanya Burleson, formerly known as Jersey Jaxin.
So, in light of all of this, what is Scalisi really saying? The moment a woman can no longer condition her throat to mutter mechanical moans in a monotonous attempt to persuade the viewer she is painfully-enjoying being bent, caged, choked, fisted, punched, pushed, thrown, spat on and then spunked on – and the crow’s feet which strenuously stretch above her forced, subservient smile fall into absolute apathy – she becomes an insentient, obsolete asset.
Enter untested cog who can, “still feel strong pain.”
This is not about empowering women; this is about subordinating them.
Meanwhile, the omnipresent deliberation over whether porn should be perceived and received as “instructional material” or “fantasy” conveniently remains haphazard. It conveniently remains futile. As deceived deliberators struggle to decide on which island to swim to, the fog increases and any chance of recognizing that pornography is neither instructional nor fantastical, decreases. By implication, the waves of passivity come crashing down.
In essence, one is not required to utilize the cords of their imagination to witness that hyper-assertive, patriarchal boss get sexually rewarded after unscrupulously unzipping his pants and beginning to masturbate at his powerless, apparently-enchanted female employee. Ultimately, they have sex. The performance may be a performance, but the message is physical, not fictional.
Sigmund Freud’s The Uncanny concedes: “For the realm of phantasy depends for its effect on the fact that its content is not submitted to reality-testing.”
At a time when the demand for these depictions is at an all-time high, is it a coincidence that women – and even girls aged as young as 11 – seem to be more likely to fall victim to being masturbated at in public now than ever? At a time when the practice of viewing mainstream porn sites – which all indifferently advertise ‘abused’, ‘crying’, ‘humiliation’, and ‘rape’ categories – has infiltrated the realm of social normativity, is it a coincidence that the word, ‘raped’ is used as if it is an innocuous synonym for ‘defeated’ or ‘humbled’?Is it a coincidence that certain lad-cultured members of university sports teams unify to sing necrophilic songs about penetrating the corpses of dead prostitutes before chanting: “We rape, steal, and pillage.”?
No. It is not a coincidence. Have we learned nothing from Bandura’s Social Learning Theory? Yet, it is not an excuse either. For the sake of irony, the phrase, “absolutely fucking not” suffices. I am not writing in defense of misogynistic, pseudo-populist crypto-oppressors who go to lamentable lengths to peer pressure others into believing the prioritization of lust before love pertains to masculinity.
Contrarily, the aforesaid questions are pitched to exemplify how watching pornography – which derives from the Greek words, pornē (‘prostitution’) and graphein (‘to document’) – is just as emotionally mutilating as being the mutilated subject one is observing.
Having said that, we must apprehend that the activation of internet censorship programs or a legal inhibition of pornography will not help to demythologize a contemporary consensus that affirms, “A man is solely valued in sex by having a large penis and an eternal erection” - rather than being, “sensual, passionate, attentive, generous, well-coordinated” - and a woman can only become, “worthy of love” through synchronously silencing her intellect and amplifying her body.
At a time when so many have become reliant on having instant access to observe fettered figures try to fake love, such legislation would thicken the already-toxic fumes our militant drug laws frivolously inhale and exhale – incubate and then aggravate
How many inadvertent or intentional terminal overdoses is it going to take for us to recognize that illegalizing leads to demonizing; demonizing leads to ostracizing; and ostracizing only elongates addictive behaviour?
For my part, I am a 21 year old son of a mother who has been hospitalized for a large part of my life as she has – and is – fighting to overcome a life-threatening eating disorder which was exacerbated by a man who decided to rape her in Paris – the proclaimed City of Love – many years before I was born. Note the pernicious correlation between anorexia and rape is anything but a rarity in our oh so civilized civilization. For this reason and due to the existence of the porn-rape relationship – a relationship I hope I have analogized adequately – perhaps it is even more deplorable that I discovered porn when I was 11 years old?
Since then, I have been endeavouring in vain and labouring with lethargy to put a personal embargo on it in the hopes that I will protect a reserve of spiritual yet humanistic romanticism that lives within me. Whilst I, live within the confines of a desensitized, colonized farrago of clichéd, hollow, hollywoodized romances overridden with supposedly-inculpable, dehumanized filmed prostitution that has inferiorized real romance for so long that it – and we – have become inured to its inferiority.
Only recently – only for the last two months in fact – have I managed to stop watching porn. And even though this may not exactly be a convincing or inspirational length of time, it has been enough to awaken my mind to the fact that this excrementitious engine of hegemonic masculinity runs out of fuel the moment one stops being surreptitious about their innate opposition to the most savage enforcement of inequality imaginable. As a result of venturing through the magic doors of communication, I am now aware that many who I hold dear are tussling to starve the same issue. This is “empowering.” So, at length, conversation ispower. Withthis realization etched in our minds, we swim against this commodified cyber-current. Forlorn, but not for long.
“’Cause we represent a truth son/ That changes by the hour/ And when you open to it/ Vulnerability is power.” – Saul Williams, Talk to Strangers.