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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: 75 Comments

  1. I’ve seriously had enough with the name calling. JUST LEAVE US BE!

  2. This article can easily make someone feel ashamed of doing something like this. I know that the porn industry is horrible and it’s been abusing and treating girls like shit ever since it even started, but what can we do? These girls pursued this and as much as they don’t want to be seen as sluts, being a slut is the best way to do it in the porn industry. Being a slut there is a compliment even though in real life, that’s far from a compliment.

  3. Erminia Morris

    How come male pornstars don’t get called sluts? I’m so annoyed with this.?

  4. Grace Schlueter

    As much as I don’t want to hate on pornstars for what they’re doing, I still think that there are a lot of opportunities out there that can get food on the table without having to sacrifice your dignity. I think that whatever they’re doing is purely for a man’s benefit and aside from the paycheck they’re getting, at the end of the day are they happy? I feel so sore just by looking at how they’re being treated by men. I don’t think it’s something that you can do forever too, so why invest on a career like that??

  5. Kirsten Brown

    How come women get called by so many names when we’re open with our sexual desires? Yet men get celebrated for crap like that.

  6. Ruth Brown

    When did it ever happen that a porn star has crossed the movie scene? I’m just trying to be realistic here. There’s no changing about how we see women in the porn industry and this isn’t anything new either. I think women should just boycott the industry so that they don’t have to deal with such. In the end they will be nothing else other than a pornstar because that’s how society is. When did it ever happen that things like this changed just because we wanted them to? Never.

  7. Debra Philbrook

    What is wrong with people? The porn industry is going insane. Someone should do something about this but I bet men are too busy watching porn to even complain!

  8. Lisa Blumer

    Women just want to live peacefully in this man’s world… We hate being called sluts for every little thing that we do even if it’s not bad.?

  9. Gloria Fletcher

    Nobody wants to be called a slut no matter what you’re doing in this world. So let’s stop the name calling and focus on something else.

  10. Megan Smith

    I’m not sure what to say about this. This has been an on-going problem for porn stars. The problem with our society is that we think money makes our world go ’round that’s why women get blinded by the paychecks. But if your sanity and how people see you is affected, I think women should re-think their choices. I mean, what do we even expect if they join the porn industry? Of course, the slut title comes along with it. We immediately assume that they’re the type of women who are free for all.

    • ERICA

      I kind of agree with this. After all, this is a choice.

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