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Slut Shaming & Porn Stars

As young women, we quickly learn that our value is in our sexual offerings, and our search for validation is set up to align with this — leading to disastrous results.

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Whores, tarts, hags, strumpets and mistresses are all names from the Victorian era, given to female aberrations. This is not the bad girl who after a few beers on a Friday has wild sex with a stranger then swiftly back to routine by Monday morning. No, I am directing you to those who loiter at the outer reaches of society. The women who we love to hate; who are lost in a chasm; in no (wo)man’s land!
Slut Shaming & Porn StarsThe fear is that once a woman has moved outside of society’s acceptable boundaries, she isn’t allowed back in. To the patriarchal world, these women and ‘sex’ are synonymous — but not in an acceptable way. Take the fear, when we were growing up, of being seen as a slut for sleeping with a guy too soon; the worry that he would judge us and think we weren’t worth the second phone call. If it got out about our promiscuity, socially, we might as well be dead.

At thirteen years old, I remember feeling suicidal from shame after one night of fornication in a fishing tent. The boy was fifteen, confident, and with his friend. They bantered whilst smoking cigarettes as my friend, Angela, and I tried to appear cool. The guy who she fancied suddenly started kissing me. I didn’t enjoy it but I didn’t have the guts to say no. His hands darted down there. I shoved him off and ran all the way home, leaving a scowling Angela behind. It was only a few days before the whispering began. I was suddenly branded Angela’s slutty ex-friend. And while I was tortured, the boy who caused me so much shame gloated, happily.

This level of degradation should never be accepted.

Slut Shaming & Porn StarsThroughout history, the bad girl has been portrayed as a depraved outsider. No matter what people say in public about how they think porn isn’t a big deal, I bet I’m right when I say that they likely find those exact porn stars just too much too bear. They are, after all, conformation of absolute misogyny. Sex on camera per se is not problematic, but the dominant (violently misogynistic) form of porn is. Any movement, no matter how purportedly ‘liberating’, that portrays men as dominant is hardly radical.

If we look around, we can see how society has arranged itself around men’s wants. The sex industry fulfills the whore narrative and lets the wives and girlfriends remain chaste. Although these ‘chaste’ wives and girlfriends are now being encouraged to act like the whore — or risk him having love affairs with porn under the banner of male entitlement.

Slut Shaming & Porn StarsTake Charlie Sheen’s porn star ex, Bree Olson, and her recent confessions via YouTube. In the video, which went viral, Olson bemoans ‘society’ and its lack of acceptance of her past work, and in particular her troubles when trying to forge a mainstream career. Bree is quick to add that there’s nothing wrong with porn. She’s just frustrated by how people will treat her for the rest of her life.

The porn star is ripe for public revulsion. Their sexuality is imprisoned by men, labelled forever as both desirous and disgusting. Many women, like Bree, entered the industry thinking that they were embracing their sexuality, but it merely emerged as a trick that’s restricted her options forever. Although this is sad for her, and other women in this situation, the truth is that what they represent is deeply oppressive.

Ask any female porn star and they swear they’re empowered every-time, with mentions of $20k monthly paychecks, but that’s the only thing they do get. Money comes and goes but their degradation is crystallised. This should never be accepted.

Slut Shaming & Porn StarsAs young women, we quickly learn that our value is in our sexual offerings, and our search for validation is set up to align with this. The industry works in synergy with these preconceptions, with promises of adoration and money for the starlet. Little do they know that this bonus was collateral damage for future ostracizing. At the grand age of 29, Bree has had to return to sex-cam work, with the hope of crossing over into ‘the movies’ one day. Due to her big profile, this is all but impossible, despite having amassed six years worth of filmed footage. She sums up her experience: ‘The words (on the internet) are something I didn’t expect to affect me in my everyday life. When I go out, I feel as if I’m wearing ‘slut’ across my forehead.’

The saturation of porn has laid ground for multitudes of instances where people are living in regret — as more are entering the sex industry than ever before. When Bree Olson bewails society, she should really turn her rage to the industry that normalized her downfall.

Vikki Dark is a British writer and academic whose oeuvre spans erotica, biography and transgressive fiction. Her latest book, about an adult film star, focuses on contemporary feminism relevant to cyber culture and sex.

Reader Discussion: 61 Comments

  1. Thank you for continuing to speak up about the harms of the porn industry! It’s very important that everyone regularly learns about, thinks about, and discusses this important issue, and particularly how it affects women and girls. It’s also very important that young women who are pressured by their partners, women’s magazines, pop culture and others to emulate porn performers sexually and in their appearance, think about what they’re doing and hopefully decide not to do so. Most importantly, though, it’s vital that young women who are considering entering the porn industry become informed about the very serious long-term negative consequences of doing so.

    Keep up the great work, Vikki! 🙂

  2. Slut shaming women is the no. one cause for under-reported rapes. It’s about time that society steps out of this patriarchal circle that was created centuries ago.

    • Its quite complex. Slut shaming derives from archaic religious control mechanisms. It posits female sexuality as dangerous and consequently shapes it as forbidden and therefore exciting. In the contemporary age slut shaming holds fresh meaning. Where once it was a deterrent against women initiating courtship, it now acts as a euphemism for excusing extreme pornographic replication. Never should we slut shame women, but we should not be dictated by masculine discourse either. Our sexuality should not be governed by expectation founded by sociopathic porn producers.

  3. Monica Collins

    How about we “slut shame” the boys, as well as the girls? Instead of saying that girls could behave in any way they want – the same as boys, why don’t we try and get better behaviour (and dress codes) out of girls AND boys. I, for one, object to having men’s buttocks staring at me. And their underpants. Not much into girls’ bosoms staring at me either.

  4. Bethany Miles

    I don’t agree with slut-shaming, but I think we should discourage promiscuity in both men and women. Sure, you have the right to sleep with how ever many people you want, but if everyone sleeps around indiscriminately the percentage of unwanted pregnancies and the risk of catching sexually transmitted diseases would increase, creating a huge burden for society. It’s wrong to shame people for their sex lives, because obviously that their prerogative, but children should be educated about the very real consequences of a promiscuous lifestyle and be encouraged to take sex seriously and not see it as a plaything.

  5. Ariana Rhyder

    Thank you so much for this article. I have been saying that for a long time and nice to hear it coming from someone else.Women are never “asking for it”, NEVER! How dare people say that, and to hear it coming from other women is the most disgusting thing in the world. If a woman wants to dress in “skimpy” clothes, heels, hair done or whatever it may be, it is her choice! Any woman can do what she wants, if you wanna sleep around – go for it, wanna have a one night stand – go for it! I am a woman and yes I like to dress up, I wear heels everyday, I do my makeup everyday, my outfits looks amazing and I am always looking done up. I have faced slut shaming from so many girls who judge me before even talking to me and what I want to say to them is GET A HOBBY or something other then talking shit about other girls. When I get called a slut, a whore, or anything else I just cant help but laugh at those PATHETIC GIRLS.

    • The majority of women are equally subject to the patriarchal sex paradox of encourage and shame. It’s part of the wider control mechanism. Many women act parasitical, vying for the attention of men and hating on each other. It’s not their/our fault. We’ve been conditioned to believe our value is gauged by how men see us. They seized the means of control, both materialistically and ideologically.

  6. Charleen Washington

    People will always have preconceived notions of who you are based on your appearance and your actions. Especially if you are female. It’s always been true, both men and women contribute to it and I ask you to show me one person who doesn’t think that way. People will always use appearance as their first line of judgement because that’s what animals do. But armed with the knowledge of how society will react to one’s specific actions, they can’t be surprised when there’s backlash as a result of their actions. Obviously no one has the right to touch another human being without their consent, and I am in no way implying that anyone is “asking” for anything.

  7. Jane Troper

    Women should not have to adjust their behaviour to be complacent with men’s expectations and they should not have to . That is not respect, that is not moving forward. A few decades ago, a white person and a black person couldn’t use the same drinking fountain. That was the world they lived in; just like this current world is the world that women live in. Unfortunately for women, we live in a world where we have to be careful where we go, what we do and how we dress because we’re women. It wasn’t all that long ago we weren’t even allowed to vote. Just because it’s crappy and difficult to change doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to change it.

  8. Winona Miller

    I want a world where people care and care enough to take personal responsibility. It’s true you can’t control outside forces, but that doesn’t mean you should numb yourself to outside influences. For both men and women. In the end, the question everyone needs to ask themselves is ‘but does that make it right?’

    Depending on the person you are, it will give you a different answer, but the deeper you delve, the more you realise it’s through your own differences, your own personal responsibility, your own choices that make you unique to who you are while we’re alive.

    People often don’t think about things for the right reasons, but I know that giving everyone special treatment, or ‘self-entitled freedoms’ only means that people will take it for granted down the line. So what does it truly fix? If people want respect, it’s through constant effort and the will to live. And it’s through caring that shows how worthy you are and how strong your will is to live.

  9. Ingrid Winston

    This has got to be one of the best articles I’ve read on Urbanette. Thank you Vikki. This was a fantastic article and sums up everything I think every time I see a slut-shaming post, comment, or article.

  10. Shelley Donalds

    It’s time to stop slut shaming women. Unless we are going to slut shame men too. It does not make sense at all!! And it men want to lay around with any woman, the how the hell can they slut shame women?

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