*Warning- this blog post contains graphic descriptions of violence in pornography*
One of the more common defences of pornography is that it is not ‘real’, that it is merely a fantasy. But this is not the case. Fantasy occurs in the mind.
The filmed sexual aggression of women by men in pornography is anything but a fantasy, and for the women being brutalised on camera, it is very real.
A pornographic scene of a woman being choked cannot be produced without an actual woman being choked in front of the camera, for the enjoyment of male viewers. When acts of sexual violence, humiliation and cruelty are carried out on the bodies of real life women, they cease to be fantasy and becomes a reality.
Some consumers of pornography argue that female porn performers enjoy violent and degrading sex acts. However, various porn performers have spoken out about the violence and trauma they have endured in the pornography industry. One of these women is actress Nikki Benz.
Earlier this month, Benz filed a lawsuit against porn production company Brazzers, its parent company MindGeek, and two fellow actors for sexual battery, over an incident during a shoot in 2016, where she was allegedly “struck on the face, head and breasts hard enough to cause her to bleed”. On Twitter, Benz claimed she was stomped on, and the director himself participated in choking her. “I guess rape scenes are in now huh?” She tweeted.
Racquel Rosario Sanchez wrote of the incident:
While [Benz] had consented to working with a co-star, Ramon Nomar, on a particular shoot, the director, Tony T. inserted himself in the scenes, as if he were an actor, participating in abusing Benz. She said she called “cut” several times, but was ignored, as Tony T. said to her, “Open your eyes bitch… Open your f*cking eyes.” Water was poured on the walls and floor in order to cover up her blood. Benz’ suit explains: “[Tony T.] would film with one hand and choke Benz with the other hand. Nomar stomped on Benz’s head. Between Tony T. and Nomar, Benz was hit, slapped, choked, and thrown on the ground and against the wall.” Read more.
Just last month, two female porn performers, Leigh Raven and Riley Nixon spoke about the brutal violence they endured on a porn set in a YouTube video.
Raven described being forced to endure acts of extreme violence by her male co-stars, including being hit very hard across the face, fellatio so rough it caused her to choke, painful intercourse leaving her with tears streaming down her face and being choked to the point of almost losing consciousness, before her male co-star ejaculated all over her face.
“It wasn’t a fake slap — it wasn’t a slap that we typically use in porn to make things look a little bit more intense than they actually are. It’s very painful and it definitely stunned me. I, you know, saw stars, so to speak...I was squeezing his leg, his left thigh, I think, as hard as I could while pushing away and wincing in pain and tears coming down my face, and he would smack my hand away, say some sort of ‘dumb white bitch’ comment and how I needed to take the whole dick.” Read more.
While there are women who 'choose' to enter the pornography industry, some do so without a full understanding of what they are in for.
In an interview earlier this year, Dr Gail Dines of Culture Reframed responded to a recent spate of deaths of female porn actresses:
“Just because they’ve signed a contract doesn’t mean they’re consenting to what goes on at the porn set. A lot of them are not prepared for what’s going to happen to them. A lot of them are young, they think they’re going to be a ‘pornstar’ like Jenna Jameson was. They’re not prepared for the violence."
“What I do know, because I’ve been doing this work for many years and worked with many women who are in the porn industry and have exited it, is that given the violence that happens to their bodies, given the diseases they get, they come away with PTSD because they’re raped regularly on the porn set."
“So many women I’ve spoken to have said to me ‘you know if you asked me two years ago, I would have given you the best story you’ve ever heard about how great it is and how empowered I felt’. It’s all bullsh*t. It’s a way to protect yourself psychologically, from the violence that’s being done to you.”