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The Jehoshua Novels


Should she have become a porn star?

(Image: Raw Story/Pandagon)

The Internet has been abuzz with a study about porn stars, which graced the front pages of the Independent for two days and was eagerly, tweeted, copied and pasted by multiple news outlets and blogs. Why all this excitement? Let’s examine why but first, following are the study’s conclusions.

The report in the Journal of Sex Research found that porn stars are not more likely to have psychological problems than other women.

Those in the sex entertainment industry had a more positive outlook on life with higher self-confidence and more flattering views on their body image.

‘In terms of psychological characteristics, porn actresses had higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction and spirituality compared to the matched group’.

Bookworm couldn’t help asking if working as a porn star is a cure for mental health issues.  She questions the validity of the study.

Let me say that I don’t believe this study at all.  For one thing, it’s got a very small sampling:  171 porn actresses.  For another thing, these actresses were compared to some magical “average” woman.  Lastly, I’m dubious about this kind of self-reported happiness, given the lives they lead.  I know people who practice . . . hmmm . . . let’s say “alternate” sexual lives.  These women tell me, almost aggressively, that they’re “happy” with their choices and that having myriad sexual encounters with nameless, faceless men makes them feel like sex goddesses.

In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Donny Pauling, a former Playboy porn producer also calls into question the results of this study.

Pauling spent nine years producing video and print pornography, making millions in the process. He ultimately quit the business after seeing what porn did to the women he recruited and experiencing a spiritual conversion.

He knows firsthand how the public “happy” face of a porn actress is often a mask covering the inner torment she experiences which she prefers or is required to keep private.

Pauling claims that

Regardless of where the women come from, the industry takes its toll.  “Even those who were not broken to start with would start to be broken down by the business,” he said.  “I’d watch the lights go out in their eyes.

As for the authors of the study, Pauling is not impressed:

Given AIM’s spotty legal history, Pauling questioned their involvement in the study.  “Adult Industry Medical is a joke,” he said. “They’ve been shut down more than once for dodgy practices.

Neuroskeptic makes an additional observation:

L.A. porn stars are not your average porn stars. The American professional adult movie industry is the biggest, most regulated, and most ‘mainstream’ in the world. Sadly elsewhere the degree of exploitation, coercion, poverty and abuse among people who end up in porn is a lot higher.

Even so, it should be pretty obvious to anyone watching from the sidelines that the adult movie industry has a vested interest in presenting porn stars as “happy”.  The industry is taking a beating from the “equal rights for women” movement and is at the receiving end of a constant barrage of criticism on how mainstream pornography demeans and degrades all women.  Furthermore, judging from the enthusiasm with which this study has been received, the presentation of porn stars as “happy, well-rounded, and spiritual persons”, functions to appease men’s conscience –watching  women being degraded must not be so bad after all, ‘cause it makes these women “happy”.

On a deeper level, the positive reception of this study demonstrates that a large number of men, conservative as well as progressive, continue to seek reinforcement of the status quo regarding sexual gender relations for which the mainstream media functions as a perfect mouthpiece. This means, for example, that the significance of studies claiming the slightest difference between men and women is amplified as are studies, such as the one under discussion, with a heavy slant toward approval of male sexual pleasure as it is currently expressed in our culture.  On the other hand, studies with findings the patriarchy deems undesirable are summarily ignored, derided, and/or discarded. Lack of publicity of the latter coupled with a failure to question methodology and sponsorship etc., of the former, continues to falsely justify the preferred narrative.

That said, there are even more sinister angles we need to consider. First, let’s take a look at the following two claims made by this study:

They (porn stars) also had higher levels of sexual satisfaction and, perhaps unsurprisingly, many more partners than other women.

The study also shows that the actresses sleep better and have more energy. Almost 70 per cent gave enjoyment of sex full marks, compared with 33 per cent of the other women; and they had first had sex at a lower age: 15 rather than 17.

The above characteristics are described in an uplifting and positive manner.  Now replace the word “porn star” with “wife”.  I have never seen the characteristics of a “happy” wife described in similar terms. On the contrary, society reserves a special insult for all the “non-porn stars” if they were to exhibit identical behaviors.  Can you see how absurd (and hypocritical) this study really is?

It behooves us to ask ourselves why this is so. It appears that the culturally created schism within the female and the dual sexual nature of the feminine have, as a result of the Internet and the culture of porn, become further entrenched in the minds of men and women – the Madonna/Whore syndrome has never been stronger.  However, because we are on a progressive humanitarian trajectory which encourages us to treat everyone as equals and human, there is a need to make the Whore (bad girl) equation of the syndrome good (“empowering” prostitutes and lauding the so-called superior “happiness” of porn stars, for example) without changing the strict demands of the “sexless goodness” of the Madonna (current wives and future wives). If you believe this is complex, well, that’s because it is.  It is difficult for me to understand how some men can keep the compartments for female sexuality separate in their heads and still claim to be rational.

 

This brings me to the final and, to me, the most disturbing aspect of this study.  And that is that its enthusiastic reception is a measure of the fact that still so many men have no interest in discovering the authentic sexual desires, needs and fantasies of women. After all, let’s be clear here, the porn stars working in the San Fernando Valley, where 85% of porn is produced, are catering to mainstream pornography whose major clientele is male. Pornography for women is anathema to the boys of the adult entertainment industry.  So in essence, men are rejoicing over the perceived happiness of porn stars whose job it is to act out male sexual fantasies. Yet there is a paucity of excitement or interest regarding the desires of Madonnas in acting out their sexual fantasies? Why is there such a disparity in our response towards male and female sexuality?

As a result of the long term anti-sex ideology inherent in most modern religions and of our culture, humans have become sexually disabled – we are all sexual cripples – men and women. To claim that porn stars are happy under the atrocious conditions they work is a measure of how dysfunctional human sexuality has become.

Shelley Lubben, a former porn star, has begun to speak out against the abuses of the porn industry:

My Tribute To The Dead Porn Stars – The Last Song by Sir Elton John HQ

Raw Story/Pandagon: The Faulty Premise of the Marriage Threat

31 comments to Should she have become a porn star?

  • Awesome post, Adrena, and a damn good debunking of the study. Thank you.

  • KayseJ

    The study seems questionable. I’m not familiar with the adult film industry, other than having known Ed Nash many years ago. (He was the drug king arrested with John Holmes – something I never knew about him.)

    In the many years I’ve lived in Nevada, I’ve had opportunities to talk with legal prostitutes and Joe Conforte. The common thread in their conversations is that they know the “real” world and all those straight women are clueless. They see the world as filled with perverts (their usual customers), and that all wives are really the same, as they withhold affection until they get what they want.

    Each conversation with these women left me disturbed and sad. Conforte had me laughing, though. A story for another day.

    • adrena

      That’s just lovely. Prostitutes tearing apart straight women – I presume the girlfriends and wives.

      How helpful.

    • adrena

      Furthermore, if society liberated the sexuality of the Madonnas than sex would be better for everyone.

      And having to do all the housework is a huge anti-aphrodisiac.

      Slaves don’t make good lovers.

      Equality is the best aphrodisiac.

  • KayseJ

    Adrena – Several years ago, I had a writing gig that covered the dark world of BDSM. I spent several months in chat rooms with “slaves.” After the first series of shocks, I realized that many women there had been through so much in life; they wanted/needed someone to take care of them. Desperation led them to accepting degredation.

    • adrena

      I’m just trying to wrap my head around what you’re saying.

      Women accept degradation to heal from the wounds of their real life? How fucked up is that? The patriarchy is brutal for women.

      And here we are, thousands if not millions of men with a low sex drive are staying in the closet ’cause the real world of ‘macho’ adoration would slaughter them if they admitted to the truth.

      I think men and women need to start a conversation.

      • Jeff Wegerson

        When I first read the conversation suggestion I imagined a bunch of people sitting together talking about sexual relationships in the abstract. I spent a quite a bit of time pondering that image and working up several responses from it.

        Then when I returned here to respond I read the low sex link. OK, stuff I pretty much believed already. I was glad to learn that I don’t have low sex drive simply because I don’t think I do though.

        But then I reread the conversation suggestion again and I took it to mean couples need to talk and from there resolve many issues between them. Oh. Okay. Sure. That makes sense.

        But that’s too simple. Lets go back to the larger group of conversers because that sounds like a really fun activity. Seriously. I so agree with you that getting up conversations between women and men about sex, intelligent conversations, has strong potentials.

        My next thought was that they need to be face to face and not in writing for them to be really in depth. So ring me up if you are getting a group together in Chicago. I have a lot of thoughts to share and also want to listen.

        —-

        What a bogus sounding study. I don’t know if I should be sorry or glad that I have missed it until your report. Maybe it’s your reporting but it sounds so obviously self serving. And yes when you come right down to the real issues, see your conversation suggestion, so off topic. Except for the participants in the study, who cares. It’s not relevant for the rest of us. It’s like finding out that long time banged up footballers, for whom the enthusiasm lights have gone out in their professional work actually enjoy pickup games with friends more than the rest of us. Well, yes, okay, so ….

        But back to the long time gist of your reporting here on the health of sexual relationships, once again an interesting read. Thank you.

      • KayseJ

        I should have addressed this in one of my other posts.

        The women who work in prostitution see a different world on a daily basis. Their comments are to be expected as they deal with some of the uglier aspects of life. At first, I, too, was offended by their “real world” remarks until I realized, that IS their world. We all tend to judge according to our own experiences.

  • KayseJ

    Adrena – Many women go into the “underground” of sex due to abuse in their early lives. One I spoke with could only find release via pain – an echo of her childhood. The greater the pain, the more intense the sex.

    Many have low self-esteem, little education, and no support system. We, as women, have come far, but not far enough. The majority of women still see others of their gender as competition, not allies.

    On the other hand, men have dealt with confusion, starting with the effects of Steinham and Millet. What is their role? How should they treat a woman? John Wayne was replaced by Alan Alda, and uncertainty and confusion began. It still exists in many.

    I’ve spoken with young women in business, and many are concerned with their “male energy.” Some stay away from relationships as that may drain them of said “asset.” The extreme go so far as to wear “soft packs” in their panties to feel male empowerment. In some cases, in those who are married, expectations on their spouses go to extremes. I know more than one who refuses to learn to cook, who expects the male-unit to nurture the children, and when they get home from work, demand dinner served as they sit in their recliner. Gaining equality does not mean mimicking men of another era…women *have* their own power. It’s society that must change towards women – to acknowledge their talents, abilities, and yes…power. Ms. Rice’s current fight is a perfect example of how some men are still hunting dinosaurs, carrying clubs, and thinking “ugh” is a conversation.

    While the topic of sex always results in a lively conversation, this is more about how the sexes perceive themselves. While progress has been made, that confusion men may suffer extends to women, as well. Yes, great topic, and conversation would be enlightening. Perhaps this is something to be taken to a separate section?

  • adrena

    Kayse – the desire of women to possess “male energy” is a measure of the extent to which “the feminine” has been annihilated in our culture. I am referring to the feminine principle that naturally resides in both men and women but that the patriarchy has made exclusively female. It’s no surprise that women cannot appreciate in each other what society hates. Although the examples you gave are rather extreme, many women express the need for “male energy” in various degrees.

    For example, how do you explain women who call themselves feminist but cater exclusively to the male gaze? It’s a way for them to be seen as men’s “buddies” which gives them a sense of power, and of course, it increases male traffic to their blogs.

    These so-called “feminists” rarely talk about authentic female sexuality as it might upset their audience. But they often speak about reproductive rights etc. in order to keep their feminist credentials. In fact, these women will talk about anything except the sexuality of “Madonnas”.

    The only way for women to have power in our culture is through appeasement of the dominant culture.

    I agree that society must change toward women but that means society must also change toward men. Both genders are in need of a complete ‘reboot’.

    On a side note, I had a discussion with my personal trainer this evening at the gym where I lift weights 3x/wk. I mentioned it was a shame that society doesn’t encourage young girls to aim for reaching their full physical potential. Our culture keeps the majority of women physically weak. The trainer said that young girls have the false perception that weight lifting will make them look fat.

    Society, please, tell young girls that physical strength is healthy, very desirable and that weight lifting definitely doesn’t make them gain weight.

    • KayseJ

      We can read, in the Old Testament, how women were chattel. As a psychologist friend said, “That was early man’s way of controlling those towards whom they felt fear; those they did not understand. Women can seduce, give birth, bleed and not die, and help another pass on. They held far too much power.” Unfortunately, that fear has taken many disguises, but has been handed down through the generations.

      Women have enormous power, which makes me wonder at those who want “male energy.” The emotional strength of women has been proven to be greater than that of males. While early man was judged on brute strength; while he would sit for hours, never saying a word while waiting for prey to pass, women created society and developed communication.

      Due to centuries of male domination, women have learned to use those abilities in self-sabotaging ways. It began as survival. Porn actresses, prostitutes, escorts…all use the obvious, but women are so much more than just sexual beings. Both men…and women…need to learn that. Such long-held attitudes won’t change overnight, nor will legislation be the magic wand.

      Slowly, things are improving for women in the workplace. We need not shoot ourselves in the foot by using our sensuality to get ahead, nor will we achieve by acting as men. We have the tools to excel. Within a generation or three, attitudes will change.

      After so many years of living, making mistakes in both the workplace and at home, I’ve learned so much about relationships, but that, most definitely, requires a topic all it’s own.

      • adrena

        You realize that the old Testament is one of the rule books of the Patriarchy – a social system that is a mere blip in the history of humankind.

        When I think of “early man” I’m reminded of Gregory Curtis’s observation in his book “The Cave Painters”. He noted that no human conflict is recorded in cave art.

        What emerges is an image of Paleolithic artists transmitting their techniques from generation to generation for twenty-five millennia with almost no innovation or revolt. A profound conservatism in art, Curtis notes, is one of the hallmarks of a ”classical civilization.” For the conventions of cave painting to have endured four times as long as recorded history, the culture it served, he concludes, must have been ”deeply satisfying” and stable to a degree it is hard for modern humans to imagine. Source

        I don’t believe we can apply the current concept of “power” to our ancient ancestors. The only way humankind has come this far is because of cooperation between men and women – all skills, feminine and masculine, needed to be brought to the table in order to accomplish this. Not one skill was more important than the other. Without the protection of men, women could not have given birth in the wild. There had to be harmony between the two genders. They had no reason to be afraid of each other.

        As for emotional strength: that human characteristic has been assigned to women at a great loss to men. Men are as much in need of and entitled to have emotional strength. Because it is literally bred out of boys, the only acceptable time for adult men to express their emotions (what’s left of them) is when they are in a relationship with a woman. This places an extra burden on the woman.

        I agree with everything else you said.

  • Skriz

    This thread reminds me of the old George C. Scott movie, Hardcore, which I always found very creepy and hard to watch. Scott’s daughter runs away from home and starts appearing in porn movies. If that movie has any resemblance to real life, porn does not help women who are already messed up!

  • JustPlainDave

    It’s important to understand that the political aspects of the discussion are straying far afield from what the study might plausibly address. The study appears to deal primarily with the notion of whether women working in the industry are damaged goods. One can accomplish that research aim by comparing a representative population of those working in the industry with a representative control population. Much of the discussion appears to go further afield than this – looking at what the industry does to those working in it. That can’t be addressed with a study like this – one would have to do paired controls over time.

    • KayseJ

      Dave – While I grew up in Hollywood, in and around the entertainment business, I’ve learned far more during my 30+ years in Nevada where prostitution is legal. There is a similarity between porn actresses and hookers, though, so please bear with my switching the job description.

      Many young women lack self-esteem and education (as previously said). The majority have serious issues long before they ever get into the field of sex. Whether it be abuse as a child, drugs, or unpreparedness for life, most are pretty damaged before they remove clothes for payment.

      The world of sex gains them attention, money and what they see as success. If they are smart, they can do very well financially. Unfortunately, too many are left broken and broke when they are no longer useful.

      I have met several women who worked at Mustang Ranch while getting advanced degrees. Some were married, some were single mothers, but they used what they were born with to achieve personal goals. For some, it worked well, but they are the minority. I also know women who wrote porn novels to pay for their education, proving there is big money is sex.

      In truth, women use their sexuality to fight against a male dominated world. We instinctively know that a wiggle or a look at daddy can get us what we want – usually by the time we’re 3 or 4 months old. If life were fair, women would control the world, but it isn’t, so we fight back the best we can.

    • adrena

      What exactly do you mean by this:

      whether women working in the industry are damaged goods.

      • JustPlainDave

        The title of the study is “Pornography Actresses: An Assessment of the Damaged Goods Hypothesis”.

        • adrena

          Oh yes, of course. I remember when I first read it that it made me cringe. I wish you had put “damaged goods” in quotation marks.

          Even though I believe that porn actresses are not happier than average women, in my eyes they are not “damaged goods” (such a cruel label). They are human beings to which tremendous harm is being done because of society’s perverse expression of sexuality.

          I’d consider the millions of men, glued to their computer screens, who enjoy watching women being abused and degraded to be more “worthy” of that term.

  • adrena

    No sexual empowerment for Madonnas, only for prostitutes

    Study: “Slut-shaming” won’t go away

    New research reveals that 50 years after the introduction of the pill, sexual double standards are alive and well

    For women, engaging in casual sex still carries a stigma, and the prospect of being judged dampens their interest in one-night stands.

    That’s the key finding of a newly published study that suggests sexual mores remain stubbornly stable. It concludes that, more than a half-century after the introduction of the birth control pill, the sexual double standard is alive and well and still influencing women’s everyday behavior.

    The research, published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly, is by three University of Michigan psychologists led by Terri Conley. Last year, she authored a paper that challenged evolutionary psychology’s thesis that women are less interested in casual sex than men. Men have a better chance of passing down their genes to a new generation if they sow their seed widely, according to that widely circulated evolutionary psychology theory, while women’s odds increase if they’re in a stable relationship in which the man helps raise their children. Thus a different set of deep, unconscious impulses lead men to be more promiscuous than women.

    In contrast, Conley’s research suggested that, under the right circumstances—that is, when the experience promises to be safe and pleasant—women are just as likely as men to engage in casual sex. Her new paper adds stigma and the prospect of backlash to that equation, and finds they inhibit women’s choices. Source

    • KayseJ

      The 60′s and 70′s proved that – no money for research needed.

      • adrena

        Yes, it’s been like that since the beginning of patriarchy – it invented the word “hardwired” just for that purpose.

        What’s surprising is that it continues to this day. The Madonnas still cannot break free from the shackles that cages their sexuality.

        All the energy goes to “EMPOWERING THE PROSTITUTES”

        • KayseJ

          Agreed. Sadly, I’ve run across more male sluts than female, but the word is “gender specific.” A man is praised for his conquests, a woman demeaned. In pre-Internet days, there was a list of differences on how men and women were perceived…things like “he’s under pressure” vs. “she’s a bitch.” Women, themselves, have promoted that thinking and are, quite often, most critical of their sisters.

          In truth, we all aren’t that different once we clear away the early programming by parents and society. Both can be bitchy, both can be slutty, just like either gender can be smart, caring, giving, etc. Yes, there are differences between male and female (thank goodness), but those should be celebrated. That’s exactly what attracks us to each other.

          Side note: What’s with younger women wanting men to wax their bodies and be hairless? My son has light chest hair, which his male energy wife has declared disgusting.

          BTW – the word I never use, the one that begins with “C” – is from British sailors for a type of knot.

          • adrena

            What’s with younger women wanting men to wax their bodies and be hairless?

            I think it’s related to this:

            What’s with younger men wanting women to wax their private parts?

            Our culture detests body hair.

  • adrena

    No comment

    original

    Courtesy of: Spencer

  • KayseJ

    The author of the article, below, hits on some of what has been discussed on this thread. One paragraph, in particular, hit with accuracy:

    “Urban rappers’ notorious sexism seems to have made black female performers stronger and more defiant. But middle-class white girls, told that every career is open to them and encouraged to excel at athletics, are faced with slacker white boys nagged by the PC thought police into suppressing their masculinity — which gets diverted instead into video games and the flourishing genre of online pornography.”

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/taylor-swift-katy-perry-hollywood-398095

  • adrena

    Yes, that’s how it is exactly. But how else can these white female performers behave when they have been brought up with this?

    What also caught my eye was this:

    Paradoxically, a key problem with the current youth cult, which is devouring both entertainment and fashion, is that aging women have become progressively invisible. If girls are helplessly stalled at the ingenue phase, it’s partly because women in their 40s and 50s are, via Botox, fillers and cosmetic surgery, still trying to look like they’re 20. Few roles are being written these days for character actresses

    It reminded me of an article I read about this topic. Very sad but true. The vanishing face of the older woman.

    At the gym, when I’m doing cardio, I sometimes watch CNN. I can never get over how manufactured the faces of female presenters look. It’s like watching plastic. I find them totally unappealing.

    When society sees beauty in unnaturalness, impossible perfection and vapidness, it has lost its anchor.

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