Join 3,553 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


What is it about us that you don't like?
March 31, 2014 1:00 AM   Subscribe

Conner Habib is a writer, porn actor, and lecturer. What he wants to know is why people hate porn stars. [SFW]
posted by paleyellowwithorange (88 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was a lot more melancholic than I imagined and not in any of the expected ways. Great writing.
posted by threeants at 1:13 AM on March 31 [9 favorites]


(Though tbh, if I were his editor, I would have recommended dropping all of the generalized porn musings and trimming it down to the really well-done story about him and his boyfriend.)
posted by threeants at 1:17 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


(Though tbh, if I were his editor, I would have recommended dropping all of the generalized porn musings and trimming it down to the really well-done story about him and his boyfriend.)

The generalized porn musings were important because they had the dual effect of making you think about the issue, and also give the impression of a person that is struggling for an explanation after a break up. It's like he's arguing with his ex, in his head, after the fact. I think it was very effective.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:35 AM on March 31 [21 favorites]


People hate male porn stars.

Because: jealous.
posted by LarryC at 1:51 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


People hate porn stars of their own gender and orientation because: jealous.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 1:54 AM on March 31


Making movies was my favorite thing in the world, but it was tiring sometimes. And it followed me around. Every meal was linked to the shape of my body and my livelihood. I had to go to the gym a lot, which I'd never done regularly.

Me: Not jealous.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 1:54 AM on March 31 [8 favorites]


Actually I'd be surprised if anyone was truly jealous of people who perform in porn (I'm avoiding use of the word 'star' because it implies a whole other set of celebrity and wealth-related things, which obviously do not apply to the vast majority of people in porn or any other line of work).
posted by colie at 2:30 AM on March 31 [8 favorites]


As an abstraction, I neither hate nor am jealous of people who are paid to have sex on film.

But at the same time, I couldn't imagine ever being deeply involved with one, because (for me, purely as a personal preference) the exclusivity of a relationship is something that contributes to its depth and intimacy.

I was actually sexually involved with a "porn star", back when I was living in Japan. It was a lot of fun though I didn't actually know she had appeared in movies until after we had started up (she had told originally told me she was just 'a swimwear model' - hah!). But it was never anything more than 'fun', and it only worked because we were both happy to be non-exclusive, and focus only the physical stuff.

But I had I wanted at that time in my life to be in some kind of deep, intimate, relationship, I don't think it could have been her. Now that would have been for a number of reasons, but yeah, her career would certainly have been a relevant factor.
posted by modernnomad at 3:19 AM on March 31 [8 favorites]


We hate porn stars because they're getting laid and we're not.
posted by mibo at 3:31 AM on March 31 [5 favorites]


It's not just porn. It's a good question, and it's not just porn. Suppose my sexual ethics were formed by Robert Heinlien at a particularly vulnerable age, and that's the wrong word, but it will have to do. Suppose that I am capable of incredibly deep, mutual, caring relationships, but value honesty. What if I told a prospective partner that in X (relatively short) period of time, I had the same number of sexual partners as the average number women in my country have in their entire lives; that I didn't regret it; that it wasn't a signifier of something more sinister, or worse - an ability to be monogamous and deeply involved.

What do I do? Lie? Pretend to be someone I'm not? Pretend to regret the experiences I've had, each one having taught me something - about sex, about people, about life, about caring, about not caring? I don't pretend. I don't often get offered partnerships which is probably just as well, because I know that some of the people in the casual relationships resent or dislike my experience, which for the most part has been shaped ethically, and with kindness.

What can you do? People make assumptions. They have their beliefs. If someone believes that someone else with a much wider sexual experience is not a wholesome person, nobody's going to change their mind.

That said, I understand that monogamy vs polygamy is a different issue - and while some folk can, for themselves, divorce sexual activity from their view of a serious relationship, I prefer not to. Ideally, my sexual relationships would be always accompanied by a deep, mutual respect and caring, and if I had such a relationship, and my partner was only comfortable with monogamy, I would be monogamous gladly and without a second thought. I think I'd like it best.
posted by b33j at 3:45 AM on March 31 [10 favorites]


And probably, my naivety, gay relationships may well be different to the hetero types of things I experience, which I might have totally missed. But I still think it's not so much about porn, as about doing sexual things outside cultural acceptance. I probably would be pretty uncool to a guy who had a thing for his pet dog. I would try not to be (as this guy's partner did - particularly in the break-up), but I would be.
posted by b33j at 3:51 AM on March 31


I don't hate him because he's a porn star. I hate him because of the long essay with all the one-sentence paragraphs; that shit just drives me up the fucking wall.

In all seriousness, he's conflating a lot of things in the attitudes that different people have toward porn as "hate." I think that people (like his erstwhile boyfriend Alex) may be intimidated by porn stars in person because they have so much more sex than most people, and moreover seem to generally be better at it, and there are all sorts of hangups and neuroses around that. (The bit where Habib wants Alex to watch some of the porn he's been in, despite Alex telling him that he doesn't want to do that, comes off as a bit of scab-picking.) And, as far as the stuff that comes at him when he does lectures, well, these kids are getting the message from numerous sources that a lot of porn is tied up in sex trafficking (as probably some of it is) and maybe having a hard time squaring it with the pleasure that porn gives them--these are college kids, after all, and probably working at sorting out conflicting feelings about all sorts of stuff.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:48 AM on March 31 [14 favorites]


He's not a star. Nobody has ever heard of him.
posted by colie at 4:54 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


That was great, thanks for posting.
posted by postcommunism at 4:58 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


This is weirdly handwavey about women in porn and completely ignores some of the most common complaints I've heard from women about porn: unrealistic body standards, scenes that implicitly or explicitly portray nonconsensual acts, etc. I get that he's a gay man and probably not an expert in these matters, but he's all "I have a female friend who does porn and no one listened to her when I invited her along" and only really mentions the possibility of these problems through the most obnoxious members of his audience (the "radical feminist" who calls him a rapist, the person who insists on talking about sex trafficking) whom he instantly dismisses. It's a personal essay, and I wouldn't expect him to talk about things outside his experience, but if you're going to generalize about porn and ask an open question to "everyone," well, everyone includes a lot of women.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:02 AM on March 31 [22 favorites]


I don't hate him because he's a porn star. I hate him because of the long essay with all the one-sentence paragraphs; that shit just drives me up the fucking wall.

So... he's providing a particular emotionally need for you, then?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:19 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


I'll be at work in about an hour, so, no.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:21 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


This is a great article. Thanks for posting this.

This is weirdly handwavey about women in porn and completely ignores some of the most common complaints I've heard from women about porn: unrealistic body standards, scenes that implicitly or explicitly portray nonconsensual acts, etc.

Those aren't an issue in gay porn? He talks (very briefly) about the way the body issue permeates his life; he doesn't talk about portrayals of consensually ambiguous things -- perhaps it is not a major issue in the kind of porn he does? Or, as he says very directly, the world is full of negative articles about porn already and he's going in a deliberately different direction in his discussion.

"Porn" covers a lot of ground, and at the upper levels (where, as he says, people have to audition and apply) people like him have a lot of autonomy and control. At the worst end of the business -- just like in any bad workplace situation -- things can be different. To pick a random analogy, if a mining engineer from Rio Tinto writes an article about working in the legal mining industry, should responses immediately go to "but what about conditions in illegal diamond mines run by the mafia"?

His point, which I agree with, is that going straight to trafficking, molestation, and nonconsent means ignoring his voice as someone who is smart and informed and has freely chosen a career he is enjoying. Performers like him and Stoya (and going back decades, people like Annie Sprinkle and others) are trying to broaden and inform that discussion, and it's telling how even here the response is to go straight back to those criticisms.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:24 AM on March 31 [27 favorites]


Say what you like, thespians aren't natural.
posted by Segundus at 5:39 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


I don't think people hate porn stars. I think many (if not most) people deal with sex and porn in the same way they do using the bathroom: a necessary thing they're vaguely uncomfortable focusing on outside the area associated with the act.
posted by Mooski at 5:40 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


I don't know anybody who hates porn stars. The people I know who hate porn generally hate it for pretty good reasons, like, for what it teaches people about how sex is supposed to work, or what kind of attitudes towards women it encourages, or the way it treats its female performers. Not because they "hate porn stars."

Sad and interesting personal story though.
posted by edheil at 5:54 AM on March 31 [18 favorites]


Or, as he says very directly, the world is full of negative articles about porn already and he's going in a deliberately different direction in his discussion.
Ok, well, if you're going to write a loooooong piece about why people "hate porn stars," it seems convenient to me to skip the critiques that can't be handwaved away. I also think he's conflating "being critical of some or all porn" with "hating porn stars." It's clear to me that a lot of people watch porn and have no problem with porn in their daily lives but have deeply shitty attitudes towards the people (especially the women) who perform in it. And by the same token, I think there are a lot of people who are critical of some aspects of porn but who aren't hostile to the performers themselves. There are lots of people right here on Metafilter who are critical of my job, and I don't think they hate me personally.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:56 AM on March 31 [9 favorites]


Yeah, geez. People often aren't comfortable about the idea of dating someone who has sex with other people as their job. What a terribly hateful thing, to be uncomfortable with your partner having sex with other people as a job. All that hate! Just like how some guys would rather have sex with women than men. Why do so many guys hate men?
posted by koeselitz at 6:02 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Back when I was single, some of the male porn stars in the area were on the hookup sites that I frequented, and other guys would ask if you'd hooked up with them, as if doing so was some sort of an accomplishment. It was very strange to me, because if someone (even, gasp, a porn star!) was on a hookup site, it was most likely because he was a bit lonely or horny and would like some companionship, not to be some kind of trophy. At least, I hope that's the case.
posted by xingcat at 6:09 AM on March 31


I think it's a combination of superstitious "yuck, he must have a dirty wienee/soul" and "I'm jealous of the women he works with."

I have great respect for anyone that can put themselves into great physical shape and focus on their boner for hours on camera because that sounds like difficult/impossible work, and I know I sure as hell couldn't begin to consider doing it.

Male pornstars perform meditation, and we should be buying their self-help books from Barnes and Noble.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:17 AM on March 31


I think it's a combination of superstitious "yuck, he must have a dirty wienee/soul" and "I'm jealous of the women he works with."

Pretty sure the latter not really in play here.
posted by PMdixon at 6:19 AM on March 31 [6 favorites]


James Deen: Me, My Boner, and I, now available for your nook at Barnesandnoble.com.
posted by valkane at 6:22 AM on March 31


I know some people who work in the adult entertainment industry and the phrase that comes to mind here is "It's just a job." Like being a pro athlete, it's a job with special requirements, but it's still just a job. In the gay domain, at least, the long term trend seems to be performers who are totally comfortable and open about their work, managing their career for the long term, and generally becoming media personalities. Brent Everett is a good example of this. He doesn't just perform on camera, he runs his own business, is all over social media, and brings his parents to adult video award shows when he gets nominated. Conner Habib, as you can see, is an example of a performer who is also a serious writer. Some studios, like Cocky Boys, are also doing interesting stuff blurring the lines between traditional scene-oriented porn and feature films. One of their films, with sex scenes edited out, recently played at a film festival.

As for the jealousy question, I think it's completely reasonable to admire people for their physical fitness and for having enough self assurance to openly do this sort of work in a society containing large numbers of people who still attempt to stigmatize it. So sure, I'm comfortable saying that I admire some adult performers, including my friends, who have those characteristics.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 6:23 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


Great article. It's sad that most critics of porn ignore the voices of the performers.
posted by aychedee at 6:25 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Ok yikes, I should have read the article first. Thanks for the callout, but I think my bit on self-help books still stands.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:26 AM on March 31


I dunno; it kind of sounds to me like he's taking things people don't like about the industry and internalizing them as being about the performers personally.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:34 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


Who hates porn stars? Not me. I find them quite compelling for about five minutes, then I'm not interested in them for a while.

He's in the business of providing disposable pleasure, and hooray for that, but I'm really not sure it's as important as he seems to think it is.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:42 AM on March 31 [8 favorites]


"Comparatively, this estimation would place the pornography industry at the same size as the $8 billion U.S. bottled water industry. Additionally, pornography would make as much as eBay expects customers to buy and sell in merchandise in 2012. Finally, the pornography industry would equal the amount of digital merchandise iTunes is on pace to sell in 2012."

From here: http://www.covenanteyes.com/2012/06/01/how-big-is-the-pornography-industry-in-the-united-states/

I think it can be argued that an 8 billion dollar (conservative estimate, US only, 2012 numbers) industry is fairly important.
posted by Hamadryad at 6:49 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


I also think he's conflating "being critical of some or all porn" with "hating porn stars."

Agreed. I can't think of a perfect parallel, but one of the closest I can think of is, say, a Wal-Mart employee. If you told a date, "I'm a cashier at Wal-Mart," their mind might instantly jump to some icky stereotypes: uneducated, trashy, poor, incapable of a "real" job. These prejudices have only a tenuous connection to the actual problems many people have with Wal-Mart as a company. There's a pretty big difference between "people with your job are awful" and "your employer is awful," yet the individual employee gets both accusations. In that light, I can understand why Habib conflates negative attitudes toward porn with negative attitudes toward porn actors, but they're two separate things that deserve to be discussed on their own.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:58 AM on March 31 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure it's super complicated. I think that deep down, many people think it's still not a good idea to be in porn, even though they either 1) enjoy it, or 2) affirm it as a legitimate life option based on changing social mores. Even in affirming it is just a fine career choice, there's still a long history of thinking that it's not, and that isn't something that can be fully discarded in a generation. It's part of a long historical discussion on the interface of desire and rationality, and it's connected to the philosophical problem of akrasia: why do I want (either for myself or to affirm in general) something that I believe is not a good thing for my loved ones or my kids to participate in? There's a conflict between wanting porn to be just fine, but really not being able to wish it as a career choice for people that you care about, so it creates a moral dissonance. We like them for their product when they are one step removed, but we don't like them in person nearly as much, because it starts to enter into the realm of the personal. In other words, many people think porn is a good idea and a bad idea at the same time.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:00 AM on March 31 [7 favorites]


The stomach bug thing bothered me. You know your partner is a sex worker shooting multiple scenes per month and you bone them without protection? Yikes.
posted by pony707 at 7:02 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Who hates porn stars? Not me.
The thing is, I think a lot of people do hate porn actors. The "Duke porn star" is the most recent, but not the first, female college student to be outed as a porn performer, and a whole ton of slut-shaming gets heaped on those young women, often by the very guys who recognized and outed them. I imagine that things work very differently in gay male communities than among the general public, but among the general public, there is definitely a lot of stigma about having performed in porn, especially but probably not exclusively for women who have performed in porn. It's really easy for people to take out a lot of their anxieties about sexuality and sexual behavior on people who work in the sex industry, and that's bullshit, especially since society is generally not equally hard on those who have consumed the products of the sex industry.

I don't know. I generally come down on the side that porn is neutral as a category. Some porn reflects fucked-up attitudes about sexuality and gender, but that's a function of being a product of a fucked-up society, not of being porn. You could say the same thing about advertising and sit-coms.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:05 AM on March 31 [20 favorites]


I think that is more 'people hate women who enjoy sex and talk about it' more than 'people hate porn stars'.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:17 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


I think a lot of people would respond, "What?? I don't hate porn stars; that's such a weird thing to say" when faced with the question point blank. But introduce them to someone who works in porn, and they may feel uncomfortable anyway. "Hate" is a strong word, but the judgment is there.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:19 AM on March 31 [7 favorites]


Speaking of the "Duke porn star" thing, did anyone make a FPP about that? I wouldn't be surprised if not, but I am curious.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:32 AM on March 31


> He's in the business of providing disposable pleasure, and hooray for that, but I'm really not sure it's as important as
> he seems to think it is.

Making sex into a disposable pleasure is a bad thing. I am not at all inclined to think well of someone who by choice goes into an industry that contributes so greatly to making sex disposable and sexual partners (fuller reaches for exactly the right term) fungible.
posted by jfuller at 7:35 AM on March 31 [7 favorites]


I was going to make a list.

A list of people who'd been discriminated against in their jobs, communities, schools, and relationships because they'd been in porn.

But after I started, the list kept going and going, name after name. I asked friends in porn, What about you? Things seem fine in your life. Then they'd tell me a story about a job they lost or a family member who stopped speaking to them. They told me about charities that wouldn't accept their money. One of them told me about a bank that wouldn't hold her earnings. There were people who had been threatened, had public appearances canceled, had been insulted and shamed.

I started to make a list, but realized "list" would be the wrong word for it. If it were a list, it would have not dozens but tens of thousands—perhaps hundreds of thousands—of names: all the names of people who have been discriminated against because they decided to have sex so that others could watch and enjoy it.


What I appreciated about this piece is how it works to undercut some of the generalizations often made on this subject—"People don't hate porn stars, they hate porn," and "People hate porn stars because of X"—because though I don't have any personal or second-hand experience with discrimination against those who work in porn it's clear to me now that there are a lot of people who are prejudiced against porn performers, and their reasons are varied and obscure. Habib also doesn't seem to have set out to take on, with any rigor, the issues he brings up, i.e. with women, and the morality of porn, but rather his purpose is simply to ask the question of why there is so much judgment around him and those who work in his industry, and to begin outlining the possible nature of that judgment.

Which doesn't make for a very satisfying article if you're expecting answers or thoroughness, but as a piece that presents the perspective from the inside I found it enlightening.
posted by onwords at 7:36 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Even the men in most porns don't look like they're enjoying themselves much.
posted by colie at 7:43 AM on March 31


You could likely substitute "porn star" in this essay for a long list of professions people immediately judge for various personal value or morality reasons - Natural gas lobbyists, hedge fund manager, diamond broker, brothel worker, campaign manager for the other political party...e.g.

Arguments can be made for why those judgements are fair or unfair, reasonable or unreasonable but more or less waived away with hate the game not the player sentiments seen above.

Choosing to enter an industry with known massive stigma, regardless of the fairness of that stigma, says something about a person. Some thinks it's brave, some think it's foolish.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 7:55 AM on March 31


Hamadryad: I think it can be argued that an 8 billion dollar (conservative estimate, US only, 2012 numbers) industry is fairly important.

But not in the way BitterOldPunk was talking about. If Habib had discussed it in that way, great, but he wasn't. He's talking about "hate", which really any way you slice it puts this into a moral dimension and says 'those people who hate "us" are morally wrong.'

If I take this essay on its own terms (or what I'd say they are), it's an interesting insight into Habib's experience of being a porn performer* -- but it never establishes "hate" or that the "hate" is directed at the performers, and it never really tries very hard to figure out where that "hate" is coming from or what social purpose it fills. I'd agree that it's mistaken to expect that of this piece -- but the fact that people are treating it as though it should or does provide those answers is interesting.

And Habib doesn't help, there. He's going to colleges to talk about porn as an expert, based on the fact that he's been a performer in the industry -- but he's getting uptight when people ask perfectly legitimate questions about the industry he's presenting himself as an expert on. If he doesn't want to deal with those questions in the context of his talk, fine, but don't dismiss them as 'hatred of porn stars.'

--
*"porn star" really is a pretty dumb term. I propose we stop using it.
posted by lodurr at 7:57 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


One can only hope that the fabled "invisible hand" is massaging these poor tortured souls, showering them with gold for all the social stigmatization that they voluntarily endure.
posted by zscore at 7:59 AM on March 31


Choosing to enter an industry with known massive stigma, regardless of the fairness of that stigma, says something about a person. Some thinks it's brave, some think it's foolish.

In most cases, I think it's more a matter of 'being young', which for a lot of people comes without a built-in sense that you are going to live a lot longer than you think and that your attitudes about the world and your life will change (i.e., that you will learn) in that time.

It's a necessary stage of development. Some of us have better guidance in getting through it. Some of us would have a problem no matter what anyone told or showed us.
posted by lodurr at 8:02 AM on March 31


I have to say that I liked his writing style. Very Cormac McCarthy-esque. I was half expecting a memory of being beaten and left for dead by horse thieves, which wouldn't have surprised me.
posted by Woodroar at 8:03 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


He's not a star. Nobody has ever heard of him.
posted by colie at 4:54 AM on March 31 [1 favorite +] [!]


The guy has 28K twitter followers.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:04 AM on March 31 [5 favorites]


zscore: One can only hope that the fabled "invisible hand" is massaging these poor tortured souls, showering them with gold for all the social stigmatization that they voluntarily endure.

Well that's an interesting idea, and it brings me back to an earlier snip from this thread:

At the worst end of the business -- just like in any bad workplace situation -- things can be different. To pick a random analogy, if a mining engineer from Rio Tinto writes an article about working in the legal mining industry, should responses immediately go to "but what about conditions in illegal diamond mines run by the mafia"? [Dip Flash]

... and I think the answer to that is: Yeah, maybe they should. But:
  1. "Every" is a big word. It's definitely not happening every time.
  2. But what if it is happening a lot? Why is that a problem? Especially if: ...
  3. ... as in porn, the larger industry is completely enabled by the "bad workplace situation" of the worst parts of the industry?
As I said above, if you're lecturing on porn and you don't want to deal with [3], fine -- but admit that's what you're doing and don't pretend it doesn't exist.
posted by lodurr at 8:08 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


Straight men hate gay porn stars because straight women into guy-guys start watching gay porn, see incredibly strong, buff, sexy, UBER-MANLY bodies in sweaty combinations & contortions… and like what they see as far as the masculinity on display.

Then they come back to straight guys, and notice all the lapsed gym memberships and aversion to push-ups.

That's mostly a joke, except I do in fact know more than one woman who has related a story like that to me.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:15 AM on March 31


I'm not fond of porn star, if only because it gets applied to anyone who has done anything pornographic on film, and to be a star requires a certain profile, to my mind.

I quite liked the article, especially considering it reminded me of numerous examples of people being fired from their jobs, especially teaching jobs, once they are discovered to have gone naked and done stuff on camera. I wouldn't have thought 'hate' was the right word, necessarily, but he would know the reactions to being in porn better than I.

I would hope in response to an article where the author talks about how people will always ask him about women in porn, especially the downsides of being a woman in porn, even though he is exclusively in the gay male side of things, and that though people will have their negative reactions towards porn that actual studies haven't really borne out their prejudices, that we could perhaps not do the exact same thing in making this all about how porn affects women and making vague assertions not backed up with cites.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:19 AM on March 31 [6 favorites]


... that we could perhaps not do the exact same thing in making this all about how porn affects women and making vague assertions not backed up with cites.

Some things we're not going to be able to support or discredit via cites. E.g., it seems pretty evident that the vast, vast majority of porn is gonzo or "amateur." But since no one can even say with any fair degree of surety how big the whole industry is, it's pretty unlikely we'll be able to find a cite that backs up what percentage of that market impact comes from gonzo, amateur or revenge-porn -- or what the relative margins are on all these different segments.
posted by lodurr at 8:26 AM on March 31


I don't think I'd ever date a porn star, but I wouldn't say I hate them. Just as I don't think I'd date a trucker... I'm just not cool with my partner being away for weeks/months at a time.

People are free to make choices, and I'm free to make my own decisions on their involvement in my life based upon those choices.

Many moons ago, my first girlfriend (whom I remained friends with after we broke up) started stripping at 17 with a fake ID. I would sometimes pick her up from the club after her shift, and got to see at a relatively young age (being 17 myself) the behind the scenes, lights on, angle of the strip club. Being that this was my initial exposure to this type of establishment, it was kinda just scary, weird and depressing.

With that said, It's not like giving blowies on camera is the prime evil. People kind of look askance at some of the shadier, scumbag CFOs and CEOs of the world, but with regards to pure output of negative effect, any given porn worker is a fucking saint compared to the Kenneth Lays of the world. But it wouldn't be my cup of tea. The weird mental images, paranoia regarding STDs... Not to mention my traditional Korean mother...

I do know that it took a good many years for my ex to get out of the stripping business. The money was just too good. Working four to five hours a night, taking home $200 on a slow night, upwards to $800 on a weekend night, you just can't find a "real" job that will allow that kind of return. I will say that if there is any jealousy there, it was the amount of money she was making.
posted by Debaser626 at 8:35 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


it seems pretty evident that the vast, vast majority of porn is gonzo or "amateur."

You'd really have to provide some evidence for that self evident truth. It doesn't seem evident to me at all.
posted by aychedee at 8:36 AM on March 31


I don't know if I think that amateur porn should be part of the same discussion as industry porn, but I know for sure that "revenge porn" shouldn't be. Images that are made or distributed without the subject's consent are really, really different from porn that people make voluntarily.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:48 AM on March 31


E.g., it seems pretty evident that the vast, vast majority of porn is gonzo or "amateur." But since no one can even say with any fair degree of surety how big the whole industry is, it's pretty unlikely we'll be able to find a cite that backs up what percentage of that market impact comes from gonzo, amateur or revenge-porn -- or what the relative margins are on all these different segments.

There are a lot of people in this thread who seem to think we can usefully talk about gay porn in the same way we talk about straight porn, just bracketing out the fake boobs. I don't really think this is true, especially when we try to talk about categories and where the harms come from. Specifically, I don't think "revenge porn" is really a genre in the gay porn world, and to the extent it is a genre it's not the same as the thing in straight porn that goes by that name. I would probably even say "gonzo" is hiding more differences than similarities.
posted by PMdixon at 8:49 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


I think it's a bit like that line from Tolstoy - if you're cool with porn actors/sex workers as partners then you're cool with them, but if you're not then it all gets real specific and personal real fast.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:02 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


As far as the relationship part, I think the problem is that porn is "just work". And when sex is "just work" for one person and the height of emotional intimacy for the other, that seems like a big problem, and an inherent problem.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:25 AM on March 31 [11 favorites]


> We hate porn stars because they're getting laid and we're not

Maybe I'm looking at the wrong porn, but I've never seen any and thought "Yes, filming that looks like a really pleasant experience I wish I were part of."
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:32 AM on March 31 [9 favorites]


"In most cases, I think it's more a matter of 'being young'"

Respectfully, I disagree. Metafilter specifically, and the universe in general, judges everyone over 18 equally. Adult choices mean adult responses. Snowden or Manning's youth rarely get used as a defense, so why should an adult actor's?

Habib said he wanted to be a "porn star" since high school, so it's not like this was a rash decision he was forced to make on the fly or after a series of unfortunate events. He chose this path, it's ok to judge him for his decisions, even if that judgement is hypocritical.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 10:07 AM on March 31


even if that judgement is hypocritical.

Huh?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:14 AM on March 31


As far as the relationship part, I think the problem is that porn is "just work". And when sex is "just work" for one person and the height of emotional intimacy for the other, that seems like a big problem, and an inherent problem.

Ehh...maybe you hate your job but I, for one, am still able to use mobile apps recreationally after-hours and enjoy them, for example, despite the fact that I configure and build them all day. In fact, it's kind of a relief to finally be opening an app after work without thinking "oh no, I have to move that dongle here and get this plugin to fit with the back-end without wasting my technician's valuable time" which I have to imagine could be quite a similar thought process to one experienced in this gentleman's line of work...
posted by Mooseli at 10:18 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


I can't think of a profession/jobs which, if openly admitted, would limit a person's career opportunities more than porn, yet is still legal. So, yes, people and society hate porn actors.
posted by Omission at 10:18 AM on March 31 [2 favorites]


I don't. Ron Jeremy seems like a swell guy.
posted by jonmc at 10:22 AM on March 31


Mooseli: Quite the opposite - I'm getting a PhD in physics and love being here! But I won't deny that the single-minded work and focus has changed me. It has changed how I think and approach the subject. If I'm discussing something I've studied with an amateur science enthusiast, say, I recognize their joy at finding out new things, I know, I've felt it, and I'm excited about the subject, too. But it's in a different way. It's so much of a different experience for me than it is for them. My empathy is not as immediate. And I, personally, would find that sort of distance painful in a romantic relationship.
posted by Zalzidrax at 10:49 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


James Deen only got an acting job with a (sometime) Hollywood A-list star because he had done porn performing. So porn greatly improved his job opportunities in the wider entertainment industry, which is where most young and attractive people want to work. Do many people do porn and then decide they want to become accountants anyway?
posted by colie at 11:15 AM on March 31


I don't hate porn stars.
posted by michellenoel at 11:33 AM on March 31


I don't think "revenge porn" is really a genre in the gay porn world

On the other hand, gay porn has the "trick/convert straight guys into gay sex" which doesn't have any parallel in straight porn.
posted by ymgve at 11:50 AM on March 31


On the other hand, gay porn has the "trick/convert straight guys into gay sex" which doesn't have any parallel in straight porn.

I think that the heterosexist trope of "hey, I'm gonna go bang these lesbians" has at least some overlap with that angle, actually.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:59 AM on March 31


On the other hand, gay porn has the "trick/convert straight guys into gay sex" which doesn't have any parallel in straight porn.

I agree! I am not trying to claim that gay porn achieves some moral high ground. That would be silly. There are plenty of super fucked up things unique to gay porn.

But it is different. Gay porn is not just straight porn without women. If you want to talk about it you have to talk about it as itself.
posted by PMdixon at 12:53 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


I largely agree with his points, except for one:

Call me crazy, but I didn't think never being able to talk about my job with him felt right. I was and still am proud of all the work I did and do.

This is not about porn. This is about the conflict between having pride in your job (which is great! many people do!) and the fact that, with very rare exception*, no one wants to hear about your day at work. I love my boyfriend, but almost nothing about his life from 9 to 5 is interesting enough to bear repeating.

*One would think that "being a porn performer" would be one of those exceptions, but not so for everyone and that's OK.
posted by psoas at 1:57 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]


"This is not about porn..no one wants to hear about your day at work. I love my boyfriend, but almost nothing about his life from 9 to 5 is interesting enough to bear repeating. "

I love that my wife comes home and unloads her workday drama in a 15 minute streaming tirade. I understand absolutely none of it (cloud? Escalation email?) but I'm there for her, nodding along like a moron.

I don't think I'd have the same comfort if she were complaining about the size of her colleague's penis. My wife's career and working day is part of who she is, I love that she tells me about it.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 2:30 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


> > even if that judgement is hypocritical.
>
> Huh?

Possibly means people who watch porn and who still think porn actors are gross.

(N.b. just for the record, and believe or disbelieve at your option, I do not watch porn. It makes me too sad on too many levels and the pleasure is not worth the pain. Not even close.)
posted by jfuller at 2:32 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Interesting comment on that article, making the point that the stigma the author complains about is actually the reason it's possible to have a career as a porn actor.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 2:57 PM on March 31


What is it about us that upsets you? Is it that we haven't put porn behind us? Because if it were all in the past, we could apologize for what was done. Surely we should apologize for living differently. For not being too scared of sex. ... Because you hate us, we've absorbed your anger.

I think Americans tend to be afraid of sex and, thus, sex workers of all sorts. An extremely quick and dirty search suggests that it's actually the Catholics who ruined sex for us and not the Puritans. News to me!

About 18 months ago I attended a workshop called "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" at a conference for perverts. The workshop featured Maggie Mayhem (NSFW) and Ned Mayhem (who used to be a PhD candidate in experimental physics at UC Berkeley as well as a porn performer, also NSFW). Neither of them are mainstream porn performers and both are geeky as hell.

Sadly, I am not a voyeur so I did not especially enjoy the workshop, which explained exactly what the title promised. It was filled with work-related tips such as playing to the camera, being your own fluffer, adding skid tape to the front of your high heels, staying hydrated, taking yoga and treating anal sex like a hotel reservation. To wit: "Call ahead and make a reservation so we can fit you in." It was all about how they did their jobs, which happened to be sex related.

American attitudes about marriage equality and some other issues have improved. But there are still a lot of depressing attitudes out there, including this:

Americans are significantly more likely to say those who are living with HIV or AIDS in the United States became infected because of irresponsible behavior than to say the same about those living with HIV or AIDS in the developing world.

I, for one, would much prefer to date a sex worker than someone who works for a tobacco company. Or one of the Big PR firms (such as Hill & Knowlton) that tend to specialize in derailing democracy. But that's just a personal quirk.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:39 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


I think that if you tapped the vast majority of "people" most of us are pretty neutral about folks in the sex industry. Hey, it's a living.

I worked in that industry for awhile (phone sex) and frankly, we were all pretty boring. Also, it doesn't really pay all that well.

I was very happy to leave my brief stint for a 9-5.

I think where "people" get uncomfortable is the idea that some sex workers are being exploited. You can't deny it, because it's true.

For every porn actor who of his or her own agency decides that this is how they want to earn a living, there ARE other sex workers who aren't making these kinds of elevated decisions.

I don't think for one minute that because people act in porn, that a kid in Thailand is sold into slavery. There isn't that kind of cause and effect.

But it is all part of the same industry, and that's where the discomfort comes from.

Clearly there's a market for porn and prostitutes and strippers and soap girls and phone sex. There's no dearth of people out there who want the products. And who am I to say, "it's nasty, so you can't have it."

But I can worry about the folks who are in the business against their will.

But that doesn't make me unenlightened, and it doesn't make me hate you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:06 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


But it is all part of the same industry, and that's where the discomfort comes from.
I dunno. If that were the case, wouldn't folks be uncomfortable with people who worked in construction, garment manufacturing or agriculture, all of which are industries that have a lot of labor abuse and significant human trafficking issues? I don't think it's just that there are parts of the industry that are really exploitative, because that's true of a lot of industries. I think that it's that there's something especially icky to many people about having sex for money.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:59 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


I don’t hate porn stars, but I do kind of hate the glamorization of sex.

Sometimes, often, I feel like I’m the only one who remembers when sex was icky, back at age 11 or so, and seemed so ridiculous, so silly, so gross and awkward and absurd.

I hate that everything in life is measured in sex appeal these days. I hate the ads for cars and beer and vacations and cruises selling sex along with the product. I hate that makeup and fashion and perfume is all about attracting the preferred sex. Even furniture is.

Sex is just not that special, it’s just not that important. I used to long for some other cultural outlet for the sexless besides the now nearly-archaic Christian concept of nunneries and monasteries. Only religion, it seems, can compete, or even dares.

I hate how people talk about sex “bringing them closer to another human being” or “teaching them something.” Sex has never taught me much about anyone else, to be honest. Mostly that was the four hour long conversations until 3 AM in the car, the watching them sleep, the being there when they were sick or had a car accident. Looking at their childhood photos. Meeting their family. Hell, I learn more about another human being from the way they get dressed than from the way they make love.

I just want it all to stop sometimes, I want to turn back the clock and go backwards, back to the really authentic summer camp days when I had no idea what I was doing and it didn’t matter and I didn’t care.

Porn stars remind me that I am a lonely freak amongst happily sexual grown up people who have totally forgotten that time when holding hands was really special and daring, or that possibly mythical cultural past when people didn’t recoil in horror when you told them you might marry your first love, and that’s why they kind of make me sad.

John Green said it best: “NO. No no no. I don't want to screw you. I just love you. When did who you want to screw become the whole game? Since when is the person you want to screw the only person you get to love? It's so stupid, Tiny! I mean, Jesus, who even gives a fuck about sex?! People act like it's the most important thing humans do, but come on. How can our sentient fucking lives revolve around something slugs can do. I mean, who you want to screw and whether you screw them? Those are important questions, I guess. But they're not that important. You know what's important? Who would you die for? Who do you wake up at five forty-five in the morning for even though you don't even know why he needs you? Whose drunken nose would you pick?!”
posted by quincunx at 6:49 PM on March 31 [10 favorites]


I think most people have this thing about monogamy. They have this inner scream of "MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!!!!!!!!!!" going on. They want to pretend as much as they can pull off that the person they have sex with hasn't had sex with anyone else. As b33j pointed out, traditionally monogamous people (which is almost everyone) consider you dubious relationship material at best if you admit to being poly or having TRIED poly--I used to get shit for it in college myself. Saying, "I've had sex with people I barely know professionally on camera, a lot," pretty much prevents all denial from being embraced in this situation. I think that's why the hate.

I don't hate porn stars myself. I'd be kinda concerned about possible diseases and certain people finding out and never letting me hear the end of it, but that's about it. But I am flexible on monogamy-type things. Most people just aren't flexible about it at all.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:31 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


I think most people have this thing about monogamy. They have this inner scream of "MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!!!!!!!!!!" going on. They want to pretend as much as they can pull off that the person they have sex with hasn't had sex with anyone else.

This is a massive over-generalization. The overwhelming majority of people I know in currently monogamous relationships have absolutely no desire to pretend that they are the only person their current partner has ever fucked. In fact, the majority of them (myself included) would think it weird to be with someone had not a decent number of prior sexual experiences.

It's great that polygamy works for some people, and I respect that choice as something that works for them and is fulfilling and makes them happy. But poly people need to also accept that for some people, monogamy is also a choice that makes them happy and leads to a more fulfilling relationship -- it's not simply some kind of childish 'miiiinnne' attitude or an entire pretence that their partner was asexual until they met you.
posted by modernnomad at 8:14 PM on March 31 [4 favorites]


jenfullmoon: "I think most people have this thing about monogamy. They have this inner scream of 'MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!!!!!!!!!!' going on. They want to pretend as much as they can pull off that the person they have sex with hasn't had sex with anyone else. As b33j pointed out, traditionally monogamous people (which is almost everyone) consider you dubious relationship material at best if you admit to being poly or having TRIED poly--I used to get shit for it in college myself."

I think most people have this thing about difference. They want to pretend as much as possible that people who are different than them are different out of some deep spiritual flaw.

It is rational for people to make calculations about potential relationships with people. The gay men I am friends with have always considered me "dubious relationship material" because I am bi-leaning-toward-straight and have mostly dated women. And good for them. I've got a girlfriend now, so they were probably making a good bet.

Likewise, as a person who likes monogamy and is going to stick with it, I consider people who are polyamorous to be "dubious relationship material" just because I'm not likely to be able to give them what they want or need. I like monogamy because emotional attachments are pretty intense for me and I want to keep them manageable. It doesn't mean that I'm a terrible person, or that I'm dying of jealousy, or that I am some sort of Gatsby demanding that my lovers renounce all previous attachments they had. I agree that there's far too much jealousy in the world, and I do as much as I can to lessen it.

Monogamy is not some sort of social disease to be spoken of with disgust; and every monogamist is not sitting in their room burning with secret hatreds.
posted by koeselitz at 8:20 PM on March 31 [9 favorites]


Sex, penetrative closeness, a sharing of bodily fluids is about as intimate as a human being can get - that and death and being born, maybe major surgery.

Such physical intimacy doesn't always, but can, lead to extreme emotional bonding. What those who "hate" porn distrust, I guess, is the assertion that - I can be physically intimate with any number of people now, but it's you - you for whom I reserve my emotional intimacy!

For someone who loves someone else and for whom sex is an aspect of that love, that can be traumatic. You share this special thing with me; you also share it currently, and in the future, with dozens of others. But ours is special; whatever else you do isn't, or isn't as special, or has no bearing on how you feel about me.

Right.

The metaphor is imperfect, but: There's this little restaurant that you as a couple go to, you've gone there for years, it's your special place. He/she begins to go there with other people - friends, business associates, people he's just met. It no longer feels special to you because it's something the two of you shared, it was your little place; and now he's turned it into just another place. And he says: But it's still as special to me when we come here as it is the other 25 times per week I come here!

And you think - How can that be?
posted by kgasmart at 12:44 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


The writer and Alex were together long after he told Alex he was in porn, and after Alex had (apparently) come to terms with seeing the writer's movies/image, and when they broke up, Alex didn't cite the porn as a reason. I don't think that this article is about Alex hating the writer for being in porn, or about people in general hating people for performing in porn.

I think this article is about the *writer's* ambivalence to porn, and to himself. Within the article, he's casting around for reasons Alex didn't want to stay with him, and he seems to me to be trying and *failing* to convince himself that it was about the porn.

To me, this article is melancholy because it's about someone trying very hard to please someone he loves and ultimately not being able to. Since porn is all about simulating pleasure and producing pleasure in others, I think talking about porn was an interesting way to frame the breakup story. But I think this article is only about porn tangentially, and is really about the limits of our ability to please others or to control others' reactions to us.
posted by rue72 at 1:53 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


And I think hate is a strong word, but I can say that I dislike porn stars (or their directors) who perpetuate the notion that women will enjoy sex with men at breakneck speed while having "DO YOU LIKE THAT HUH HUH HUH DO YOU LIKE THAT" shouted in their ear while their boobies are being rotated at weird angles toward the non-existent camera next to the bed.
posted by mibo at 7:24 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


... only about porn tangentially ...

That makes sense to me, and I might criticize it to some extent for failing to really be clearly about what it's about. But the thing is, hardly anything is ever really clearly about what it's about -- and that's fine -- and in any case, I think the thing that makes it most "about" porn may be the external framing. (I usually take it as a given that, with few exceptions, even feature writers don't typically write their own headlines.) In a different context, it would be fine that it never spelled out 'this is about human relationships, not porn.'
posted by lodurr at 7:29 AM on April 3


@Colie I think it's funny that you used "accountant" as an example of something a porn star wouldn't want to do

I have many friends in the industry. Most of them are in the niche-but-professional side of that world (Crashpad, Kink.com, Burning Angel) but my friend who is most successful in the industry, who might actually become a porn STAR started (relatively late in her mid-twenties) after several years as an accountant.

She LOVE being an accountant (and sometimes I'm surprised at how patient she is giving me free tax advice) but she loves having sex on camera.

Still, I'm pretty sure her short term backup plan (in case of health emergency) or long term plan (if her career peters out or the industry folds on itself as it's showing signs of doing) is to return to the world of accounting, albeit with the possible risk of the big firms not wanting to hire her because of her xxx work.

I think there's a big misconception from the people who *do* spew hate and extreme judgment at performers that they don't know that their porn career isn't going to last forever. Everyone who I know in the industry know that the older they get, the less opportunities they're going to have. Some of them have backup plans in the industry (directing porn, opening up their home town's first feminist dildo shop, becoming sex therapists, parlaying their experience into a writing job at Vice or something like it), some have backup plans in tech and business and journalism and civil rights advocacy (a surprising number are into EMT/nursing jobs, like way more than, say, my other artist friends who require a Plan B career path). Some will go back to whatever short-term lucrative job they were doing pre-porn in the sex-work-and/or-service-industries and drift around like Time Magazine says good Millennials are supposed to do until they figure what they're doing. None of them have delusions that they'll be kindergarten teachers.
posted by elr at 9:55 AM on April 3


One of the problems with any discussion of porn on mefi is that there's a large contingent of people who regard any critique of porn as prudishness.

I think sex work ought to be legal. I also think it's pretty clear to any honest observer that the vast majority of the sex work being done in the modern world is exploitative.

In fact, I just did something interesting in using the term "sex work", because discussions about sex work usually revolve around educated practitioners who see themselves as taking control of their bodies and their own choices. They are people who, due to the lucky circumstance of being born where and when and at the social status that they were, have the option to critically exercise those choices.

Or, in a word, elites:
Right now on the New Inquiry website, for example, you can take a satirical quiz called “Are You Being Sex Trafficked?” Of course, if you are reading the New Inquiry, chances are you’re not being sex trafficked; if you’re a sex worker, chances are you’re a grad student or a writer or maybe an activist—a highly educated woman who has other options and prefers this one. And that is where things get tricky. Because in what other area of labor would leftists look to the elite craftsman to speak for the rank and file? You might as well ask a pastry chef what it’s like to ladle out mashed potatoes in a school cafeteria. In the discourse of sex work, it seems, the subaltern does not get to speak.
posted by lodurr at 8:58 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


« Older If you don't like Marcellus Laroon's pictures of L...  |  If Minecraft was an evil F2P g... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments