The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Isabel López Ruiz Headshot

Respect the Choices of Women Who Go Into the Porn Industry

Posted: Updated:

"How did you tell your family?"... "Were you sexually abused in any way?"... "What are your hopes for your future?" These are just some of the questions former porn star Sasha Grey had to endure when she appeared on The Tyra Banks Show back in 2007. When Sasha attempted to defend her chosen career in porn, Tyra simply wasn't convinced: "You haven't told me, I haven't really found a true reason, a deep soul reason."

Unlike Tyra, when it comes to the choices a woman makes during her life, I believe there is only one thing you can do: respect them. Respect them because you don't know what her circumstances might be. Respect them because she knows better than anyone else what's best for her. Women should never be condemned for their career decisions, especially if they decide to enter the porn industry.

For me, being a feminist is about respecting women's choices, whatever they may be. If a woman over the legal age requirement wants to voluntarily participate in the porn industry, that's fine. If she doesn't, that's fine as well.

Young women like 'Lauren A', Duke University's freshman porn actress, are being publicly shamed for exposing their bodies on camera. It seems like the idea that a woman could have full control over her body is still shocking to some. When people accuse her of taking part in an industry that 'degrades' women, they don't realise their comments are degrading in themselves, as they refuse to acknowledge her individual voice and bodily autonomy.

Lauren hits the nail on the head when she states that the criticism she has received boils down to a single cause: "Patriarchy fears female sexuality". The thought that women could be comfortable with their naked bodies on screen is seen as indecorous and narcissistic. It simply doesn't fall within the margins of the social construct of 'femininity'. Dictating what is and what isn't demeaning is extremely problematic. As long as it's 100% consensual between the two parties and no one suffers unwanted injuries, why should we question the decision taken by women to work in pornography?

Time and time again, we insist on branding pornographic material with pejorative labels, viewing the women who work for the industry as either unredeemable whores or defenceless, wide-eyed girls. In reducing women to this trite dichotomy, we overlook their experiences beyond the porn industry. By focusing on the socially constructed, negative stereotypes, the real lives of these women, both on and off set, are ignored. For example, Lauren describes her job as her 'artistic outlet: my love, my happiness, my home' and feels 'completely in control of [her] sexuality'. April Flores, a BBW porn actress, decides to use her body as a way to 'challenge the ideals of beauty and what is considered desirable'. Stoya, another famous porn star, simply describes her work as 'bluntly superficial entertainment that caters to one of the most basic human desires'. And she's right to demystify the world of pornography because only when we start seeing it in that way, will we be able to accept the women who decide to enter the profession.

And yet, what happened when Lauren was publicly outed by a fraternity member? What happened when Sasha was chosen as a guest reader at Emerson Elementary School in Compton, California, after her retirement? Moral crusaders had a field day, flocking to the Internet to express their disgust. The possibility of a woman having other interests that did not involve a vigorous exchange of bodily fluids was seemingly unfathomable. Working in the porn industry doesn't make a woman less of a person. Stigmatising them even after they have left the business is harmful and completely uncalled for, serving only to perpetuate detrimental and misogynist stereotypes.

Porn is often considered to be an undignified job, but why is it only women who are asked to justify their choices when entering the industry? Men also work in the adult entertainment business and yet their career decisions are never scrutinised. In fact, many see porn as yet another way for men to assert their masculinity and power, which obviously fits in with the typical societal expectations of men. However, when the roles are reversed and we see women proudly in control of their sexuality, their choices are immediately questioned. This is a damaging double standard that has to be eradicated.

Women working in the porn industry need to be heard and respected. It's hard to believe that we're still dissecting, scrutinising, and judging women's career choices in accordance to whether they fit our morally dubious definitions of what's right or wrong. However, this isn't a question of morals. It's a question of respect and allowing women to have complete control over their professional lives.

Around the Web

Porn Industry Career - AskMen

Farrah Abraham: 'I Was Raped And Drugged Working In The Porn ...

The Pornography Industry: Pictures, Videos, Breaking News

The truth about the porn industry | Life and style | The Guardian

The UK Porn Industry Gets Nasty

Sunny Leone-II? Porn debutante doing adult films to fund college education is ...

Porn Stars Square Up To Feminists Ahead Of Stop Porn Culture Conference In ...

Adult Film's Unexpected Feminists