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The Dark Side of Porn: What’s really going on behind the scenes.

Do you really want to support it?

Contents:

Internet porn has become fully normalised in our hyper-sexualised society. Many of us think the actors just love having sex and getting paid for it, meaning there’s nothing wrong with the porn industry. But in reality, this isn’t the case.

On social media, porn stars tend to play along, giving the illusion that they're living their best lives while having loads of sex and making tons of cash. In reality, the world of online porn has a dark underbelly, full of sexual violence, exploitation and addiction.

Once you get to know what’s really going on, you might question whether this is really an industry you want to be supporting with your clicks.

'Of course I lied to my fans. I led them to believe I lived a fantasy life that was far from the truth. I fed into their fantasies. I said I wanted sex 24/7 and made it seem like I absolutely loved what I did and was living this happy life.' Jan Villarubia, ex porn actor

There are endless lived stories of violence and trauma from women who've closed the door on porn. Those who are still working don't speak up out of fear of being blacklisted - which is why we only hear these stories when actors leave the adult film industry behind them.


Why women get into the porn industry

People usually justify the porn industry by saying that the women who star in the films are consenting, so it's all fine. But it’s not as simple as that.

“They usually “consent” only in a degraded and demented sense of the word… In which a person who despairs at stopping what is happening, sees no escape, has no real alternative, was often sexually abused before as a child, may be addicted to drugs, is homeless, hopeless, is often trying to avoid being beaten or killed, is almost always economically desperate, acquiesces in being sexually abused for payment.” Catherine Mackinnon - legal scholar:

Alex Boyd on Unsplash


When you boil it down, there are three main reasons women get into porn:

  • Fame: Someone who’s hungry for fame may believe (or be led to believe) that starting out in porn will land them real acting jobs in the future. A chase for fame that takes such a desperate route is often caused by a personal history of neglect and/or abuse, and reflects a deep need for love and approval from others.

  • Money: When a young woman is totally desperate for money, maybe with dependents like kids or family, homeless and/or dealing with addiction, then porn can be an avenue she turns to out of sheer despair – not because she wants to.

‘The greater a woman’s vulnerability, the more difficult it is to resist pornographer’s and porn buyer’s demands.’

  • Sex: If a woman gets into porn because she's obsessed with sex, often there's an unhealthy addiction or hypersexual disorder there which the industry is profitting off. Sexual disorders usually come as symptoms of broader mental health issues, and so working in porn is making that a lot worse.

“It was torture for seven years. I was miserable, I was lonely, I eventually turned to drugs and alcohol and attempted suicide. I knew I wanted out, but I didn’t know how to get out.” Jenna, ex porn actor

Not all porn actor’s backstories will be the same, of course, but there are common threads. One explorative study speaking with women in the industry found ‘young age, financial insecurity, earlier exposure to sexualized violence, and poor mental health’ at the root for many of the actors.

Behind the Scenes of a Porn Film

Here are four things you'll usually find behind the scenes on a porn set:

STDS

When sex is your money-maker, ensuring safe practice is surely top of the priority as a porn production company. In reality, condom use is shockingly low.

Practising safe sex is only a standard practice in a very small number of production houses. The reason? Risks aside, a lot of the industry leaders think that porn with condoms ‘won’t sell’ as well. So there’s a high risk of contracting an STD as a porn actor. A 2012 report in LA found 28% of 168 porn actors had chlamydia or gonorrhea, or both.

‘Before porn, I never had unprotected sex. The industry promised me safety because they “test every 28 days”. However, just because there’s testing doesn’t mean you’re safe as a performer…  Let’s say you get an STI test, but then you have unprotected sex with someone, and they give you an STI that same day. Now, for the next 28 days, you’re spreading the STI you contracted until you get tested again and treated for it.’ Brittni De La Mora, ex porn actor


Prostitution

JC Gellidon on Unsplash

As a sex worker, you can make roughly 10x more by the hour than you do in porn, and some claim working the streets is actually less physically demanding and degrading, although there are other risks involved.

For some though, getting into prostitution isn’t happening by choice. Porn actors can be tricked into prostitution by agents, who pretend they're booked for a film, leaving the actor with no choice but to comply when they get to the job.

Drug addiction

'You’re viewed as an object—not as a human with a spirit. People do drugs because they can’t deal with the way they’re being treated.” Tanya Burleson, formerly known as Jersey Jaxin, ex porn actor.

When you take into account layers of personal trauma and desperation, mixed with a work environment that’s often abusive and violent, it’s not a massive surprise that many porn actors turn to drugs for an escape.

Women in the industry usually start out very young, making big money for a few days' work a month. Soon they have a lot of spare time and spare cash on their hands, which makes them prime targets for drug dealers.

Sex Trafficking

When we hear the word 'trafficking', Netflix thrillers about kidnapping and international gangster circles tend to spring to mind.

The legal definition of sex trafficking is actually, 'any instance in which the individual is forced, tricked, or coerced.'

Here are some common examples of sex trafficking in the porn world:

  • An actor is forced or tricked by their agent or the director to perform a sex act or have sex with an actor that's on their “no” list.
  • A porn performer shows up on set to discover that the scene is more aggressive or degrading than they’ve been told, and their agent threatens to cancel their other bookings if they don't go through with it.

‘I had to do whatever the producer pleased and I had to accept it or else no pay. Sometimes you would get to a gig and the producer would change what the scene was supposed to be to something more intense and again if you didn’t like it, too bad, you did it or no pay.’ Jan Villarubia, ex porn actor

  • Mid filming, the other actor(s) gets increasingly violent, and things get out of control. The woman tries to get the director to cut, but the camera keeps rolling.
  • Sometimes, videos and images of more extreme sex trafficking incidents (the kind you think of when you hear that term) end up on porn sites, and you as the viewer will be none the wiser.

“I got the s— kicked out of me… most of the girls start crying because they’re hurting so bad… I couldn’t breathe. I was being hit and choked. I was really upset and they didn’t stop. They kept filming. [I asked them to turn the camera off] and they kept going.” Regan, porn actor

Of course, there are degrees of sex trafficking, and this stuff isn't happening behind the scenes of every porn movie out there. The trouble is, as you browse and watch porn online, it's impossible for you to know what is a result of sex trafficking, and what isn't.

The Demise of Pornhub

What role does adult film giant Pornhub play in perpetuating the dark side of the industry?

In January 2020, Pornhub was the 10th most visited website on the planet, with more visits than Netflix or Amazon.

Until very recently, there was no control or regulation over who or what was uploaded onto the platform. More and more films that were non-consensual and that involved sex trafficking were being uploaded. Viewers got used to extreme, aggressive content, so the demand for content of women being treated violently went up, and the problem continued to grow.

Following a global campaign led by Trafficking Hub, by January 2021 Pornhub had deleted 80% of its content (a staggering total of 10 million videos), and is now facing 7 major lawsuits, and is under international investigation for child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and other illegal activity.

Ashley Byrd on Unsplash


We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with adult entertainment: it’s the level of abuse and exploitation that goes on in the industry that is hard to be ok with. Watching porn doesn’t make you a bad person, and it’s easy to develop a compulsive porn habit because of how it affects the brain. You have the power to reverse those effects, and decide what you consume from now on.

As Gandhi said, we have to be the change we want to see in the world. So It's time to take a radical step back to stop supporting the porn industry, and start showing women the respect they deserve by rebooting.

‘Society doesn’t need porn. [By rebooting] we are helping eliminate the abuse and suffering the people in these obscene videos have to face (whether willingly or unwillingly). Next time you think about relapsing, think about how that girl you’re jerking off to might want to kill herself because of the very video you’re using for 10 minutes of joy.’ Reddit user, anon

The more men who quit porn the less demand there’ll be, and the more the adult entertainment industry will be forced to change its ways. Find out how REMOJO can help you to quit porn here.




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