This post was originally posted on student magazine The EDIT's website on December 3rd 2015.
What happens when your favourite male porn star is accused of rape? For me, I've been forced to reevaluate my porn habits and it has been a long time coming.
James Deen was one of my favourite male porn stars. Hailed for his cute yet cheeky charm and his penchant for whispering sweet nothings into his co-star's ear, he was like a breath of fresh air to the phallo-centric, male orientated porn I was used to seeing on mainstream sites.
Deen was one of the only male performers I would actively seek out on Tube sites and would go as far as visiting his website every couple of months. Getting off on the multitude of trailers uploaded featuring girls with different styles, bodies and ethnicities. The diversity was refreshing, his on-screen presence arousing. He was helping to remove the stigma behind women watching and enjoying his pornography that always seemed so mutually beneficial and consenting.
Outside the porn set he seemed an accessible guy who's tweets involved selfies with cats and praising of the humble taco. Even his bio denotes him as being a simple guy who "bangs chicks for a living :-)" like it is no big deal. He was like someone sent from the porn gods to give viewers an alternative to the loud, pumped up and fake-tanned common male character of porn.
This outlook of Deen being the nation's porn star sweetheart changed on November 28th when ex-girlfriend and fellow performer Stoya tweeted that Deen had held her down and raped her despite saying no, stop and her safe word. Since then, accounts from stars Tory Lux and Ashley Fires were released claiming they too were assaulted by Deen.
Remarkably the backlash has already resulted in several companies distancing themselves away from the star. BDSM website kink.com have dropped Deen as a "performer and a producer" while his sex advice column, What Would James Deen Do? (WWJDD) with The Frisky will not continue. Several porn and sex toy companies such as Evil Angel, Wood Rockett and Doc Johnson have also publicly announced that Deen will no longer be a performer they promote nor associate with.
The lightning speed of the porn companies mentioned however puts Hollywood cases, like Bill Crosby's to shame, where the first allegations of sexual assault were outed in 2006 but it wasn't until 2015 that NBC cancelled his new sitcom.
While claims are ongoing for Deen and the whole "innocent until proven guilty" argument continues I can't help but feel shocked, let-down and trying to suppress the urge to mutter apologies to my vagina for ever gaining pleasure from watching his videos. What do you do when a favourite porn star has been accused of rape? Unlike finding out your favourite actor, sports person or singer has been accused of assault I'm plagued with a strange, uneasy feeling of ever taking physical gratification from his films. James Deen did what he was paid to do in producing content to make me climax on several occasions and I can't undo that. But those times have been stained with an odd sense of shame and guilt.
This occurrence has made me question my porn habits. Not that Deen's content was my only source of wank-bank material by any means but where porn has become so common I'm forced to ask why do I need to watch other people have sex to get off at all?
This year the times I have gotten pleasure without porn or a partner barely makes it to double figures. I want to change that. Since last week I have decided I am doing at least a month of using nothing but my mind and body to get me off when going solo. What I can only hope for in this self-exploration adventure is that my imagination will become stronger and my synaesthesia and enjoyment of sex will increase. I wonder if I will become more sensitised to sexual imagery that I have become so used to as someone exposed to porn since being a teen. I feel like this is a good a time as any to delve into this experiment and see what answers not using any third party appliance or medium to get off on has on my body.
In the meantime I regret to think of any more stories that may be unleashed from this case. I expect that a can of worms has been opened on the star and director and it may produce debate on assault in the porn industry. Deen was once quoted with Good Men Project saying that participating in rough, punishing sex made him feel "icky". But perhaps he was role-playing in that interview too. Either that or he was foreseeing the adjective that thousands of his viewers are describing themselves as feeling after once enjoying his content. Myself, very much included.