Researchers compared data from 177 adult entertainment actresses with a sample of women matched for age and statuses. All the actresses had worked on one or more X-rated films and their ages ranged from 18 to 50. Of the actresses over a third were married or in a committed relationship.
The study investigated the claims often made by anti-porn groups about women involved in the industry: “Some descriptions of actresses in pornography have included attributes such as drug addiction, homelessness, poverty, desperation and being victims of sexual abuse...Some have made extreme assertions, such as claiming that all women in pornography were sexually abused as children. Stereotypes of those involved in adult entertainment have been used to support or condemn the industry and to justify political views on pornography, although the actual characteristics of actresses are unknown because no study on this group of women has been conducted.”
What is interesting (and should set alarm bells ringing) is that the notion that all women who work in the sex industries need rescuing has grown in correlation with princess culture. We increasingly find comfort in putting all women in a Little Girl Lost category. Little Girl Losts can be saved and explained, before being excused. A grown woman deciding she would like to be in a very adult industry cannot.
Little Girl Losts can be saved and explained, before being excused.
Yesterday I mentioned that I only went on one Reclaim the Night march due to political differences with the London and Glasgow marches. I will never attend a woman only or segregated Reclaim the Night march, I will never march under the banner 'Women are not for Sale' or for a list of commitments presented in this fashion: “in our call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women – violence that includes rape, sexual assault, prostitution and pornography, trafficking, domestic abuse, female genital mutilation.” Because it is vital for the safety of women in the sex industries (and in general, because it all filters through – like it or not) that we do not treat the words 'prostitution' and 'pornography' as interchangeable with 'rape', 'trafficking' or the other crimes listed. Jemima on the blog It's Just a Hobby describes why lumping all these words together into one category is dangerous.
Of course it's not all wonderful relationships and great senses of spirituality in the adult entertainment industry, just as not everyone working in McDonald's is necessarily stoked to flip burgers. The study found that the women who had worked in X-rated films were more likely to have a history of drug and alcohol use (just to highlight, that's use – not abuse). Psychologists explained this might be linked to “sensation-seeking personalities.”
This is a small but important study that demonstrates the importance of clarity. Those who make outrageous and generalising claims about all women who work in all aspects of the sex industry might actually be making it harder to create necessary and important guidelines within adult entertainment and the sex industry. The clue is in the title: adult entertainment, so let's treat the women involved like adults and fair treatment should follow.