“Hot Girls Wanted” and “Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On” are a series of documentaries that have been taking the world by storm on Netflix, partly due to their honesty and frankness regarding the porn industry and partly due to the controversy surrounding whether they actually gained consent of those shown on the documentary. By hiding behind a very convenient “fair use” law they have chosen to air episodes that have crossed multiple adult industry lines, including divulging personal names and details of workers in the adult industry and airing workers that did not give permission to be on the show. To be totally honest though, I had no idea about the attention and controversy surrounding the show when I sat down and watched episodes with a side of icecream and exam jitters earlier this month. The shows for the most part follow people related to the adult industry, and it does an incredible job of shining a light on the positives of the industry including stable, hard working mentors and actors and caring managers. It delves into the fame and the lucrativeness, as well as into the darker sides that until recently no one really wanted to acknowledge.
Porn is a culmination of an entire team’s hard work, scripting, direction… it involves people’s bodies interacting in intimate ways. It is a product, and because it is a product it should be paid for. It is never free to produce, so it should never be free to download.
The porn industry has always intrigued me; mostly because the increasingly cheaper styles of shooting, the stories and the acting just isn’t what gets me off personally. Personally, sex evokes emotion and often mainstream porn steps around that feeling of intimacy to focus upon the acts. For a huge amount of people, however, it is an escape into an alternate reality… A ‘reality’ which is, obviously, totally fantasy. You only have to watch one episode that shows a porn shoot, where the stars are constantly given directions to follow, to realize that it is acting. “Stick your fingers in her mouth…. Pretend to choke her….”Of course shooting involves direction, this is the point; to take the fantasies and desires of the general public and convert it into a film that the public can watch and immerse themselves in. But people often don’t think about the planning, forethought and direction that is cut out of the final product, and the danger is that they can start to believe that the kind of sex in porn is what sex should always be, rather than just one form of sex.
Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with loving porn. If this kind of sex is what really turns you on sometimes (or all of the time) then go get it tiger. It can be a big turn on to experiment with different scenarios, different levels of domination, with theatricality… in other words, like mainstream porn. The big problem, however, with drawing this kind of conclusion with real life everyday sex lies in the lack of security and protection for our younger generations. A scary 70% of young teens have been reported in one study to have come across porn for the first time accidentally. I in fact was one of those teens, accidentally coming across porn while browsing the web at the age of 11. Teens are usually underage when first exposed to porn, around 12-14 years old, with minimal sexual experience, and so they don’t necessarily have the ability to see a pornographic shoot as “make believe”.
As the porn industry has evolved, it has often had to build momentum through a shock factor as viewers become desensitized to the content. With a massive market in the industry for rape scenes, degradation, humiliation and other forms of ‘abuse’, and considering its portrayal of non-consensual stories without actually showing the explicit consent of the actors prior, its easy accessibility to our younger generations is a concern. If these kids haven’t had any personal experiences or an upbringing that has involved honest, frank discussions about sex, what lessons are they going to take from these videos? Will they think that this is OK to do this to sexual partners? Is this what they will see love as? Will they consider consent to be necessary?
The adult industry itself is playing a large role in the control of content to the general public, with many companies, producers and actors refusing to provide or shoot scenes that are degrading or humiliating. In some countries like Australia, this content is even considered illegal. However, like everything, where there is a will there is a way and all of the control in the world won’t stop the portrayal of these scenes. Why? Well, it’s simple. It’s because it’s a fantasy for many, and porn is in the business of showing us our fantasies.
This means that our sex education systems are important; in fact, increasingly so in a world where literally anyone of any age can access the entire world, adult or otherwise, on their phone. We now live in an age where porn isn’t necessarily something frowned upon or hidden; but as a result we now have a responsibility to ensure that we not only teach kids that there are many aspects to sexuality, but they do it safely and with consent, when they are ready, on their own terms.
In addition to increasing accessibility, the rise of the digital era has had an incredible influence on how the porn industry operates. A mind boggling boom of free porn sites has resulted in a major struggle for those within the industry to make ends meet; after all, if no one is paying for porn then who is paying for their productions and actors?
Some of these free sites have even touted themselves as ‘feminist’ porn, encouraging women to post free videos of themselves as a way of celebrating femininity. In their eyes, if women are posting up free videos of their own then its non-exploitative. This is a blatant contradiction however because these users have been openly encouraged to post free videos of themselves as if their posting supports free speech and femininity; diverting eyes from the truth that they should be requesting payment instead. And come on, let’s be honest – even if it doesn’t explicitly exploit the people who freely upload videos of themselves to the net, it is extremely disrespectful to the professionals who provide this service for a livelihood.
Some producers have managed to find a niche in the boom of this amateur production era where everyone has access to a camera and a desire to be more financially secure or sexually liberated. Erika Lust is one such producer, who along with other greats like Jacky St. James has continued to stay afloat during the industry’s evolution by beating her own path into the arena of high end porn production. Erika is a pioneer for soft porn production and is providing a refreshing alternative to the mainstream porn industry which is featured in the documentary. In a world where women are increasingly accessing porn to spice up their sex life, they are delivering the emotion that is often involved with “real life” sex that many of us actually crave in our own lives. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with the style of fantasy that mainstream porn portrays, Erika, Jacky and their peers are providing us with that beautiful emotional balance to the way that we view porn… and they are charging for it. After all, the only way that they can continue to compete with the sheer number of competitors in this industry is to use money to create a more polished and cinematic experience and continue to set themselves apart from the crowd.
Do I love to escape? Yes, just as much as you do. Do I love a freebie? Yes. Does that mean that I seek out free porn? No. Porn is a culmination of an entire team’s hard work, scripting, direction… it involves people’s bodies interacting in intimate ways. It is a product, and because it is a product it should be paid for. It is never free to produce, so it should never be free to download.
It is for all of the above reasons that I pay for my porn, and why you should also pay for your fantasies.… this is crucial for the continuation of the porn industry. Giving your body to any form of the adult industry is taxing, and hard work, and should be paid for as such. The only way that adult entertainers can continue to provide you with your sexual fantasies and fixes is if they are paid for their work, and paid well. Otherwise they will ultimately burn out, and where will you go for your fantasies then?
It is taxing. It is a legitimate, difficult job. They don’t want to do it for free…so don’t expect them to. No matter what type of porn is your preference, pay for it… don’t make them pay for it instead.