A study published this week has debunked the stereotypical portrayal of porn actresses as 'damaged goods' who enter the adult entertainment industry because they suffer from low esteem or have been victims of childhood sexual abuse. The report in the Journal of Sex Research found that porn stars are not more likely to have psychological problems than other women.I remember, years ago, reading Traci Lords autobiography. I was shocked to discover the sheer amount of sexual abuse she’d gone through before she started porn. If memory serves me correctly, she was molested by one or two of her step-dads (while her mom watched), and was essentially pimped out by one of her uncles. Her dad was not part of her life, and she developed a tendency, fairly early in life, to hook up with douchebags. After she got into porn (at the ripe old age of fifteen), she started doing a ton of drugs and alcohol, mostly because she was unable to perform sober. Then she cleaned up her life and lived mostly happily ever after, so far.
In fact, they discovered those in the sex entertainment industry had a more positive outlook on life with higher self-confidence and more flattering views on their body image.
'In terms of psychological characteristics, porn actresses had higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction and spirituality compared to the matched group,' the report summarises.
Researchers at Pennsylvania's Shippensburg University, Texas Woman’s University and the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation said they found no evidence to support the 'damaged goods hypothesis' that all porn actresses have come from backgrounds of sexual abuse. [Emphasis added.]
In contrast, most modern porn stars don’t have quite the troubled background. Sunny Lane, for example, grew up in a “sex-positive” family, and her parents (yes, plural) act as her manager. Sasha Grey appears to have a fairly decent background (though her parent are divorced), and apparently entered porn to do some avant-garde stuff that was supposed to change the industry or something like that; she has leveraged this into a minor film career. Bree Olsen (who apparently went to high school in my school district) has a fairly normal background as well, at least relative to this day and age.
My point in all this is that the girls who are porn stars today are generally quite different from the porn stars of yesterday. The girls who went into porn, say, twenty years ago, did so because they had daddy issues and or serious addictions to pay for.
The girls who go into porn today do so basically because they enjoy sex and want to get paid for it.
Or, to state it another way, porn used to be for women with serious psych problems. Now it’s for sluts.
And really, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that seemingly normal girls go into porn these days. Between birth control, feminism, and the increasing sexualization of society, porn has evolved from a last chance for extremely damaged women into a semi-legitimate career path. And so, as porn becomes normalized within the culture, expect “normal” girls to become more prevalent in the industry.
Another thing worth pointing out is how feminism has been generally harmful to women. Since the study results are relative, not absolute, it should not be surprising that porn stars aren’t all that different from normal women. A good number of women are fairly dysfunctional in their relationships; they simply have the good decency not to leave video evidence. So, one way to interpret the results of this study is that most women have roughly similar sex lives, and a few of these women happen to be porn stars.
Of course, since the study is basically self-reported polling, it may be the case that female porn stars are lying. But then, it’s not like non-porn-star women are renowned for their honesty, so maybe women’s general tendencies towards dishonesty cancels itself out.
In all, I don’t think much can be made of this study, but I would urge caution in interpreting it, especially since it’s not only possible, but it’s likely that the sex-positivism of female sexuality as espoused quite forcefully by feminists over the last forty years may finally be coming home to roost. If so, this study is but a harbinger of things to come.