Porn Stars Are Happier Than You

Dec 1 2012 @ 9:19pm

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A new study in the Journal for Sex Research found that female porn stars "experienced no more abuse than a matched sample, and they were found to enjoy sex more, have higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction, and spirituality." Alex Heigl contemplates the changes in our approach to porn:

For years, people have attached negative stigmas to porn actresses: a 2001 study from the same journal revealed that porn actresses were universally perceived to have come from more dysfunctional families than their male counterparts, and that porn actors were attributed more positive motivations for their work than actresses. … It really wasn't until porn moved online that we started to get alternate opinions. We learned that Asia Carrera is card-carrying member of Mensa with an IQ of 156, who earned a full ride to Rutgers and coded her own website. And obviously there's Sasha Grey, arguably the first Web 2.0 porn star — we know more about her, and her relative personal stability (she is in an industrial band), than any other porn star prior. Gradually, we’ve started that all women in porn aren’t damaged, or flawed, or coerced. Most of them are just people.

Tracie Egan Morrissey welcomes the change, especially for second-wave feminists:

Throughout their careers, Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon have been adamantly anti-pornography, which is fine as a personal opinion, but they've stated that it's a "feminist view" that all pornography is rape and institutionalized gender inequality.

They've asserted—in their various works like Only Words and Pornography: Men Possessing Women—that all women in pornography were sexually abused as children and that pornography damages all women involved in it. They were incredibly extreme claims, particularly because they didn't have any empirical data to support the assertions. … Ultimately, the study found that adult film actresses are happy and healthy, not just by their own standards, but by completely objective measures. So perhaps the second wavers' perceptions of women in adult films, which have been used to condemn the entire industry of pornography, can finally be seen for what they really are: inaccurate and unfair stereotypes embellished to justify their own political views.

(Partial view of an infographic by John Gara)