March 09, 2016 11:30am
Redefining the Status Quo
Source: Adult Industry News
by: Rich Moreland
Redefining the Status Quo - The conclusion to the seven-part Consent Series by Rich Moreland
How often consent boundaries are crossed in porn is anybody's guess. An honest survey of talent would likely produce enough incidences to keep any curious newshound busy. Though their "no" list red lights may flicker here and there, performers manage to take questionable moments in stride. Veterans respond in their own way and grumblings aside, work together to finish the job at hand. For those who can't negotiate the vagaries of sex for money, attitudes are haunted by resentment demons lurking in the shadows. Disappointment builds and careers flame out.
Being informed and communicating limits should be at the top of everyone's "yes" list. When personal responsibility falls short, moments of regret occur. A now retired performer once told me that after she finished an anal scene, the director followed her into the bathroom where he promptly compromised her for himself. She was too young and new to say "no."
However, looking at consent from inside the industry as we have done in this series is only part of a bigger picture because informed consent has an effect on two levels. The first, of course, is performer (sex worker) rights. But consent does not end there. The industry must extend its vision beyond its own borders which leads us to the other level: public attitudes about sex work that are too often shaped by the anti-porn crowd.
From their standpoint, the atmosphere of adult film not only negates informed consent, it also reinforces the unwavering belief that porn girls are violated, abused, and raped. It's part of the package of preconceived notions about the industry and its debilitating effect on our cultural ethos.
Granted we've heard all this before, so why should we care?
The porn biz is somewhat insulated may not realize that a James Deen/Stoya-like story is instant fodder for anti-porn feminists, religious moralists, and self-righteous politicians who want to cripple the industry, not stand up for sex workers. In fact, concern for performer safety can become a smoke screen that hides condemnation. Michael Weinstein, anyone?
Look at it this way. As the Bill Cosby firestorm flamed up, the public eagerly chimed in on the side of the abused women. As for James Deen and Stoya, scattered concern quickly surfaced online and among bloggers, but has now quieted, just as the episode has faded within the industry itself.
What we haven't seen yet is the backwash from anti-smut folks who are convinced that porn's influence penetrates the non-porn world, harming girlfriends, wives, and partners who are harangued to have sex like a porn star.
Because of this reality, it is imperative that the industry get its act together on consent. Porn must redefine the status quo of "figure it out for yourself" that leaves some performers feeling violated and isolated. APAC is a beginning and everyone from directors to agents to producers needs to get on board with its initiatives.
The end game is this. When newcomers enter the industry, they need be educated about what is acceptable and encouraged to assert their personal limits. Male performers can help by respecting a girl's boundaries at every turn. They already guide newcomers when the lights are hot; safeguarding their integrity must go along with that.
All performers, male and female, should demand their personal boundaries be respected and, in turn, respect those of their co-stars. If limits are violated, everyone has the responsibility to speak up. Studios, producers, directors, and agents are not exempt from the equation and for the most part are totally supportive of protecting those they hire.
If the industry can forge a united front regarding the rights of talent, a step toward deflating anti-porn propaganda will be in the offing. Perhaps then the public will care just a little about what happens on a porn set rather than dismissing performers as throwaway people in a morally reprehensible business.
Previous parts of this seven-part series are linked in the Related Stories box in the top right of this page.
About Rich Moreland
Rich Moreland is an adjunct professor of history at Frederick Community College in Maryland (USA) and writer in the adult film industry. His column appears online at Adult Industry News (AINews.com) out of Los Angeles. Rich's blog (3hattergrindhouse.com) covers relevant issues, film and book reviews and interviews with industry people.
A Washington, DC metro area resident, Rich has a bachelor's degree from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master's degree from Salisbury University. He finished post-masters work at the University of Maryland with Advanced Graduate Specialist recognition. He is a lifelong educator and a former competitive triathlete.
For a concise history of feminism in adult entertainment get Rich Moreland's book "Pornography Feminism: As Powerful as She Wants to Be" linked above.