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Porn: a multibillion-dollar industry that renders all authentic desire plastic

The images, messages and stories of pornography have seeped into and distorted our genuine sexual identities

by Gail Dines

January in Las Vegas. The sun, the shows, the casinos – and yes, the Adult Entertainment Expo, the world’s biggest porn convention. Every January pornographers from all over the world descend on Las Vegas to participate in seminars, learn about industry trends, network with peers, meet the new “creative” talent, and keep up with the latest technology. When I attended the expo, from sitting in the business seminars it quickly became clear that what excites these guys (and it was overwhelmingly men) is not sex, but money. They spend hours in airless, poorly lit conference rooms discussing niche markets, product diversification, and how to generate website traffic, because, as the expo website says: “Identifying, selling and marketing the right products for your existing customers and attracting new ones is vital in today’s competitive marketplace.”

As these predatory capitalists figure out ways to expand their customer base, a few yards away, in a cavernous convention hall, the very people they are analysing are mingling with their favourite porn performers, watching snippets of the latest movies, and eagerly awaiting what the organisers call “Sexy Stage Shows”, where female porn performers simulate sex with each other. When I walked around the hall looking at the porn movies on display, I watched women being choked with penises till they gagged, being roughly penetrated by men who called them “slut”, “bitch”, and “cum dumpster”, and – in one particularly bizarre case – being anally penetrated while in a coffin.

Wandering around the room, I saw porn performers dressed in the usual garb of thongs, high-heeled shoes, and not much else, sitting on tables with their legs spread as men lined up to pose with them so their friends could take pictures. My interviews with the fans waiting in line revealed that they had bought the official party line: porn was about fun and fantasy, not reality, and we shouldn’t take it too seriously. I wanted to drag these fans over to the conference rooms to show them just how wrong they were: to show them the venture capitalists, producers, directors, and distributors who took porn very seriously indeed.

And so they should. A multibillion-dollar industry that produces more than 13,000 films a year in the United States alone, the porn business is embedded in a complex value chain, linking not just film producers and distributors, but also bankers, software producers, credit card companies, internet providers, cable companies, and hotel chains. Porn has been a major source of revenue for hotels for some time now, with chains such as Holiday Inn, Hilton, Sheraton, Radisson, Hyatt and Marriott making a lot of money from pay-per-view TV. In 2007 an article on the porn industry business site XBIZ put the annual revenues from hotel porn at over $500m. The article continued by pointing out that hotel porn not only makes money for the hotels, but also for the companies that supply it, which include mega-giants such as LodgeNet and On Command.

It is no accident that the International Consumer Electronics Show takes place in Las Vegas at the exact same time as the expo. Porn has helped drive the technologies that expand its own market. According to Jonathan Coopersmith, a historian of technology, porn has proven to be a reliable, highly profitable market segment that has accelerated the development of media technologies, from VCRs and DVDs to file-sharing networks, video on demand for cable, streamed video over the internet for PCs, and, most recently, video for mobile phones. Video uses vast quantities of data, and the demand for porn has driven the development of core cross-platform technologies for data compression, search, transmission and micro-payments. File-sharing networks such as Kazaa, Gnutella and Limewire are better known for music, but are widely used for porn video files too.

Some of the themes that ran through many of the seminars at the expo were how to integrate porn into pop culture, create a favourable public image for the business, and sidestep regulation. The pornography industry, unlike most other industries, can’t directly advertise its products on television or in newspapers, so it has to rely on PR companies such as BSG Public Relations to place porn-friendly stories in the mainstream media. There are hundreds of examples to draw from here: Jenna Jameson on the Oprah Winfrey show talking about how empowered she feels from making porn; Hugh Hefner being interviewed by yet another newspaper; an article in Cosmopolitan on how watching porn is a fun way for women to spice up their sex lives; or the popular T-shirts with “Porn Star” written across the chest.

The cumulative effect is what the journalist Pamela Paul calls the “pornification” of our culture, wherein porn images, messages and stories seep into our sexual identities and relationships. This trend can be seen in the ever-higher heels that are now popular with women, the hypersexed look of younger and younger girls, celebrities such as Miley Cyrus pole dancing, and – in what is probably the most blatant example to date – the popularity of genital waxing among young women.

This practice became widespread in porn about a decade ago and now is so commonplace that it is almost impossible to find female performers with pubic hair. Meanwhile, shaving has become so accepted among my female students that they tell me they are repulsed by their pubic hair. And so are their sex partners, some of whom refuse to have sex with them if they are not fully waxed. This makes perfect sense, given that many of these men got most of their sex education from porn.

This phobia has ironically given women one unexpected, if meagre, weapon in their struggle to maintain a semblance of sexual autonomy: “The Trick”. I learned about it at a college lecture I gave a few years ago. A student in the audience started talking about “The Trick” as if everyone knew what it is. And, in fact, most of the other women nodded their understanding and familiarity with the practice. Well, it turns out that women who want to avoid sex on a particular night out purposely don’t shave or wax beforehand, so that they will feel too embarrassed to participate in casual sex. When I asked them why they couldn’t just say no to sex, they informed me that saying no was too difficult, given the pressure to have sex, so they pulled “The Trick” on the guy. Of course, “The Trick” really demonstrates just how little sexual autonomy and control the porn culture affords young women.

One of the seminars at this year’s expo is called In the Company of Women. Here academics will mix with pornographers to share ideas on how to develop niche products targeted to women. I’m sure there will be lots of talk about how women can be empowered by watching porn, because the pornographers, being the savvy businessmen they are, like nothing more than telling women that porn is actually good for them. This is their “trick”, and one we must resist if we want to replace the plasticised, formulaic and generic images of the pornographers with an authentic sexuality based on our own experiences, longings, and desires.


Porn Stars Are Abused and are Human Trafficking Victims

Three porn stars have died in the last three months. Hunter Bryce was found in her San Fernando Valley home on April 13th, 2011 dead. She was only 30. Her facebook page is full of comments like, RIP Hunter, you were a great porn star. You will be sorely missed.”

The movies she starred in were the really violent kind where the girls are tied up and gang raped, used up and thrown away. Her friends called her behavior ‘odd and aloof’ though Bryce was clearly having drug problems and had reached out for help on Twitter several times. No one seemed to hear her except for Shelly Lubben from The Pink Cross Foundation. Shelly tried to reach Hunter in time by sending Twitter messages and Facebook posts. She desperately reached out to her fans asking them to pray.

The other two deceased porn stars are Greg Centuaro who died on March 26, 2011 from an apparent drug overdose and Sexy Cora on January 20th, 2011 from a complication with breast augmentation. She was having surgery for the 6th time enlarging her breasts from 34F to a 34G reports Sky News, she was only 23.

Shelley Lubben is also begging her fans to pray for Kacey Jordan, the human throw away binge toy of Charlie Sheen’s. She tried to commit suicide on March 14th , 2011 after her binge and is struggling to maintain her sobriety. She was recently hospitalized and Shelley wants nothing more than to help her get through this pain before she ends up dead too, like her co-stars before her.

Shelley Lubben, former famous porn star and prostitute, now is truly a modern day hero with her life saving organization, the Pink Cross Foundation. She is the sister who truly cares and give real world help to dozens of girls and guys who all claim the porn industry is filled with pimps, rapists, and people who will do anything “to just get the shot,” even if the ‘talent’ is under age.

"Most of the people who join the porn industry come from broken homes. Many of the girls are sexually abused. So the porn industry actually lures in these kind of people to exploit them. So basically when someone is watching pornography, what you’re really doing is contributing to the demise and destruction of adult survivors of sexual child abuse who are on drugs and have physical disease. That’s really what you’re watching because I promise you, nobody in that industry is healthy," Says Shelley on her website.

Another quote said, “Someone online mentioned that porn stars are abused, so I Googled “are porn stars abused”. Your page came up and I read the stories. I will never watch porn again, it’s terrible and unethical. It seems like modern enslavement or human trafficking.”

-a porn viewer

Here are the facts about the not so glamorous porn industry.

• 36 porn stars died that we know of from HIV, suicide, homicide and drugs between 2007 and 2010.
• 66% of porn performers have Herpes, a non-curable disease.
• 2,396 cases of Chlamydia and 1,389 cases of Gonorrhea reported among performers since 2004.
• Over 100 straight and gay performers died from AIDS.
• 26 cases of HIV reported by Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM), since 2004.
• 70% of sexually transmitted infections in the porn industry occur in females according to County of Los Angeles Public Health.
• Chlamydia and Gonorrhea among performers is 10x greater than that of LA County 20-24 year olds.
• The largest group viewing online pornography is ages 12 to 17.
• More than 11 million teens regularly view porn online.
• There are 4.2 million pornographic websites, 420 million pornographic web pages, and 68 million daily search engine requests.
• 50% of men and 20% of women in the church regularly view porn.
• Of 1351 pastors surveyed, 54% had viewed Internet pornography within the last year.
• Of all known child abuse domains, 48 percent are housed in the United States.
• At the 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a gathering of the nation’s divorce lawyers, attendees
revealed that 58% of their divorces were a result of a spouse looking at excessive amounts of pornography online.
• Child pornography is one of the fastest growing businesses online, and the content is becoming much worse. In 2008, Internet
Watch Foundation found 1,536 individual child abuse domains.
• Worldwide pornography revenue in 2006 was $97.06 billion. Of that, approximately $13 billion was in the United States.

Dr. Mary Anne Layden, co-director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Therapy- “Porn is the most concerning thing to psychological health that I know of existing today. The internet is a perfect drug delivery system because you are anonymous, aroused and has role models for these behaviors. To have drug pumped into your house 24/7, free, and children know how to use it better than grown-ups know how to use it — it’s a perfect delivery system if we want to have a whole generation of young addicts who will never have the drug out of their mind.”

Jenna Jameson says, “Most girls get their first experience in gonzo films – in which they’re taken to a crappy studio apartment in Mission Hills and penetrated in every hole possible by some abusive asshole who thinks her name is Bitch. And these girls, some of whom have the potential to become major stars in the industry, go home afterward and pledge never to do it again because it was such a terrible experience.”

Jersey Jaxin says, “Guys punching you in the face. You have semen from many guys all over your face, in your eyes. You get ripped. Your insides can come out of you. It’s never ending.”

Genevieve says, I had bodily fluids all over my face that had to stay on my face for ten minutes. The abuse and degradation was rough. I sweated and was in deep pain. On top of the horrifying experience, my whole body ached, and I was irritable the whole day. The director didn’t really care how I felt; he only wanted to finish the video.”

Jessie Jewels says, “People in the porn industry are numb to real life and are like zombies walking around. The abuse that goes on in this industry is completely ridiculous. The way these young ladies are treated is totally sick and brainwashing. I left due to the trauma I experienced even though I was there only a short time.”

Ashley Brooks’s says, “For masturbation videos, unsanitized sex toys were offered as props. On set, if a girl was having reservations, or second thoughts, the producers would become very belligerent. I remember during one particular production, this girl, who was new to porn, came with her boyfriend. She couldn’t have been any older than 19 or 20. When it was time for her scene, she said she wasn’t sure she wanted to do it. She was very distraught, and nervous, but the producers and her boyfriend just kept egging her on. They told her how sexy she was, and eventually became very irate, telling her how she shouldn’t be there wasting their time if she wasn’t serious. Most producers have absolutely no patience with the girls, even though being on set is a very traumatizing experience. There is no room for compassion in the porn industry.”

The fact is you can read dozens and dozens of stories about the truth of the porn industry. Shelley Lubben’s new book called “Truth behind the fantasy of porn,” is a sizzling page turner of nothing but the truth. Men and women are trapped behind the fantasy of porn and we as a society are forgetting how to be loving and caring for one another. Porn ruins our ability to have ‘normal’ sex because we become addicted to unnatural, violent, and unethical sex which no longer satisfies.

Another great resource for finding out the truth about the porn industry is by Gail Dines, the author of an explosive new book about the sex industry, on why pornography has never been a greater threat to our relationships. It also leads to other forms of illegal pornography such as child porn. Here is what she had to say:

"I recently interviewed a number of men in prison who had committed rape against children. All were habitual users of child pornography. "What they said to me was they got bored with ‘regular’ porn and wanted something fresh. They were horrified at the idea of sex with a prepubescent child initially but within six months they had all raped a child."

As a society, we have lost the ability to care for each other and our children. Porn is not glamorous. It is dangerous not only to the mind and body, but to the soul. The attitudes against women and children have turned violent. Advocates say we must change the course if history or we are doomed. Child sex trafficking and human sex trafficking are all related to the porn industry, and there are hundreds of stories by famous, former porn stars to share the truth with you.

Another great article that discusses the affects of porn on the brain: How Pornography Drugs and Changes Your Brain by Donald L. Hilton, Jr. describe in detail the effect of porn on the brain.

“It’s not that the facts aren’t readily available,” says one Californian mom. “it’s that people no longer care if they molest a child, rape or enslave a woman, or sleep with a dog. Morality has gone way down and it is called ‘freedom’ but freedom for whom? Certainly not the child, women, or dog that is being raped and forced into the sex acts. This is evident by the state of the world and they way people act today.”