The Sex Industry, Gonzo Porn and Me…
I met the sex industry at the age of sixteen. I was in a local diner when a short, tubby woman approached me and handed me her business card. She asked if I wanted to join her glamour model agency. It sounds ridiculous now, but I was elated – I thought it was such a compliment. Then, when she told me I would get three to five hundred pound (that’s about $450 to $750) per shoot, I was completely sold. Like many girls who sign up for the sex industry, I was living hand to mouth. To me, $500 was a fortune.
A few weeks later, I went to my first job. I arrived at a Tudor-style house, hundreds of miles from where I lived. I remember a tanned, bare-chested guy of about twenty-five opened the door and gave me a cheery grin. I was led into the kitchen, given a glass of champagne and guided to a stool to have my make-up done. As I drank the champagne, I watched two men set up the shoot around a grotto-style pool.
The guy who answered the door then –very casually– pulled his penis out of his pants and started tugging on it, to the amusement of the rest of the group. Horrified, I asked the makeup artist what was going on and she said, “that’s what you’ll be screwing, honey”.
I was totally shocked. I had no idea I was expected to have sex with someone on camera. I told them that I couldn’t do it because I had a boyfriend. They were cross with me but even angrier with the woman who had sent me. Apparently, this wasn’t the first time a girl had turned up quite unaware of what she was actually going to be required to do.
One of the men told me I wouldn’t be paid for the day and nor would I be given any money for my travel expenses. This was a huge issue for me. After paying for the long cab ride out, I no longer had enough money to get back home. I started to panic. I didn’t know where I was. I couldn’t order a taxi. I didn’t even have enough money for the train. Looking back now, perhaps I should have walked. But I didn’t. Feeling trapped, I very reluctantly did what they asked of me.
This was the start of my career in the glamour industry and the beginning of my desensitization. Lured by money, numbed by alcohol, and paralyzed by the lack of other employment opportunities, I ended up staying in it for a decade. During those ten years, I experienced the sex industry in all its manifestations. I was used, raped, became a functioning drunk and lived through two drug overdoses. I now think of myself as a rehabilitated victim of sexual abuse, even though I gave my consent.
When I finally escaped, I made it my mission to change my life through education. I studied for a degree, then got my MA and finally a PhD. During this time, I began to realize that even the act of identifying myself as a glamour model had oppressed me. I wore the glamour girl’s uniform of short skirts, low cut tops and brash make-up — which inevitably invited a certain response. When I dressed this way, men treated me like an object and women hated me. Many glamour models convince themselves it’s because women are jealous of them, but I don’t think that’s the case. In reality, we were pitied for being a plaything of the patriarchy.
The sex industry turns the naked female body into a platform for perversion. Women are presented as sexual objects to be used (and abused). This is in stark contrast to the male performers in the industry who are dominating, seemingly in control, and allowed expressive range.
The sad thing is that women as object is a perspective that bleeds into the mainstream. Women are either hot or invisible. Sure we can recognise a hot male, but we don’t vilify the not-so-hot in the process. Porn amplifies this objectified perception of women, making many feel pressurised into catching the wondering eye of their partners — and allowing men to feel entitled to stray.
True gender equality is not going to be achieved by simply revealing more flesh in new forms. We’ve been there, done it. It’s not radical. True freedom is in refusing to participate and covering up for a change.
Know that you deserve to be seen as sexy because of the things you have to say — not because of the curve of your cleavage or the cling of your skirt.
Women should recognise that they are being duped by the sexual entitlement culture into thinking that this vast sex market is somehow beneficial to them. True radicalism is refusing to be an ‘ornament’. Be good looking, sure, but dress for yourself. Porn and the ‘glamour model’ have changed women’s positioning in relationships. I’ve heard many stories of husbands expecting gonzo porn to be a regular feature of the bedroom.
In fact gonzo porn (sex focused on men provided by objectified women and shot from a solely male perspective) has done a huge amount of damage to society. Men are finding it harder to get turned on by real sex, too often needing the woman to behave like a slut with some anal chucked in. The come-guzzling, double-penetrated spunk dump has replaced the Playboy model as man’s best friend.
Studies have been conducted which show that children as young as eleven years old are regularly consuming porn. These children are learning the ridiculous gonzo narrative that all women love being gang-banged. Unless something changes, these kids are the next generation of warped sex addicts, logging on and getting off in the wee hours, whilst their girlfriends sleep.
Gonzo now dominates the internet, representing almost 70% of porn traffic. Alternative porn is a genre that at least tries to show both genders equally and from conventional camera shots, but it’s not popular because the mainstream porn industry wants power and domination over women. It wants to hurt women physically, emotionally and societally whilst making money from their suffering at the same time. Gonzo porn is now so widespread and damaging that it has got to be stopped.
Women in the sex industry rarely truly consent to participation. They are either pressured, drugged, brainwashed, or feel they have no other choice. The majority of the women in porn suffer through it because they’re in a desperate situation. In the end, we all feel ruined by it. The only people who are really in control are the producers — and they are in no hurry to point out that most so-called “porn stars” end up regretting it. Those of us lucky enough to break free end up living with constant reminders of our mistakes. Thanks to the Internet, the pictures and videos that we’re now ashamed of will inescapably live on forever; making money for our oppressors and shining on as examples of very values we now despise.