Everything you do can be taken by other people and shown out of context for their own purposes or to support a view that you may or may not share. Everything I do can be taken by other people and shown out of context for their own purposes or to support a view that I may or may not share. Most of the time I accept people projecting their own opinions onto me as what happens when you put things (art, photographs, writing, orifices) out there (on the internet, in stores, museums, or plastered over a spray painted stencil of “Post No Bills”) for others to consume and go on with my life. Sometimes, though, I feel like words are being put in my mouth that I strongly disagree with and need to contradict.
Just because my job is in the category of sex work does not mean that my opinions and experiences are the same for all sex workers. Just because I like my job and chose it doesn’t mean that all sex workers like their jobs and actively chose to be sex workers. Just because I had other options and opportunities that are not sex work easily available and grew up in a comfortable middle class household does not mean that all sex workers had that same level of advantages. Some had more, some had far less. Being an exclusive performer for a couples oriented plot-driven porn company is not the same as being a freelance performer. Also, the American pornography industry is not the same as the European pornography industry, neither of which are the same as prostitution, professional BDSM, stripping, or any number of subcategories of the sex trade.
Pornography is entertainment. The final product is a fantasy. Most companies don’t discuss the testing protocols we use. They don’t explain that actually the guy playing the pizza delivery man (Mike Blue in one case and James Deen in another) is someone that I at least casually know. They don’t show the viewer the parts of our day where we discuss limits and specific preferences before we start a scene. I would draw a parallel to the way that romance novels don’t have an epilogue reminding you that relationships don’t actually work like a fairytale. They don’t point out that two people can be head over heels for each other but both parties have to put in serious work or have a likelihood of breaking apart the first time they have trouble resolving a major conflict. Alternately: the same way that action movies don’t have pop-ups saying “This daring maneuver would never have worked in real life because of physics.” This is because we expect the viewer, as an adult, to know the difference between entertainment and reality.
I am not trying to tell you that all porn is good. I am not trying to tell you that we are all healthy and happy. If anything, I am trying to provide a balance to all of the sensationalized stories (Linda Lovelace, Jenna Jameson’s autobiography, the Mr. Marcus debacle, statements from feminists who seem to mean well but don’t seem to have actually watched much pornography, news outlets who I suspect find it much easier to paint all sex workers as victims than show a potentially unpopular but neutral or positive view). Most of the time I’m just saying “Hey, a few thousand people on the internet seem really interested in this stuff so here’s what I did today or my thoughts about something” or “This thing happened to my vagina and I thought I’d share since it’s a common but infrequently discussed gynecological issue that could use some more awareness.”
Not all pornography is sex/body/woman/queer-positive. Not all pornography is sex/body/woman/queer-negative. It isn’t all exploitative, but it isn’t all ethical either. Like most industries, it’s a mixed bag. If you’re going to paint pornography as entirely bad, know that I’m going to put my experiences and opinions out there to balance yours. If you’re trying to paint pornography as entirely good, know that I will not sit quietly and be used as your paintbrush.