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February 29, 2016 05:30am
What is Consent?
Source: Adult Industry News
by: Rich Moreland

Rich Moreland What is Consent? - The introduction to a seven-part Consent Series by Rich Moreland

The James Deen/Stoya controversy has created a stir in the adult industry though it remains mired in allegation, accusation, and denial. No official charges have yet been filed, and may never be, for that matter.

However, the lovers' personal, off-camera dustup has opened a much needed dialogue about consent on a porn set, especially since other women have come forward in a Bill Cosby-like atmosphere to point the abuse finger at Deen.

To understand of the meaning of consent, I talked with a variety of industry people whose responses clearly reflect the nature of the adult business.

This article is the beginning of a series that reveals what I learned.

Overall, four conclusions frame the discussion.

First, everyone believes porn presents unique circumstances. In other words, things happen during a scene that can challenge performer boundaries. It's the nature of the job and as talent said to me, "It's what you signed up for."

Everyone agrees that "no means no." That is sacrosanct. Cajoling a "no" into a "yes" should never occur. Simply put, if a girl says "no," that's the end of the debate. Ignoring a "no" and proceeding despite objections is serious business.

Thirdly, newcomers (often "barely legal" eighteen-year-olds) need to be educated about what to expect before they step out of their adolescence onto a porn set.

Their situation is a double-edged sword. Opportunity cuts one way while pressures resulting from that opportunity slice the other.

To their advantage, fresh faces are always highly valued and these youngsters are eager to shoot. Unfortunately, they have little understanding of how the sex worker business operates and most likely have never had a full-time job in their short lives, much less make any real money.

And, don't forget that porn is a supply and demand business; there are more girls who want to work than there are roles available.

As a result, newbies become vulnerable. Big money is easily earned, but it comes with a downside. Girls will hear, "if you want to keep getting booked, you need to do this or that." Limits are ripe for being stretched because personal boundaries may not be clearly understood or delineated to begin with.

Performers tacitly recognize that defining limits and boundaries is an individual call and, consequently, differs from person to person.

It makes sense, then, that consent is flexible and fluid because one performer's objection is another's "hell yes."

That leads us to the final, and probably most important, point. To make it in porn, each performer must take responsibility for his or her decisions. It's personal and, as I was consistently told, "nobody knows what you like or dislike unless you speak up."

Be smart, inform others, and enjoy your career is the repeated message.

The articles that follow will take a look at consent from a variety of points of view. Similar to the story of the blind men and the elephant, to get a complete picture the topic must be understood from different angles.


Watch for Part Two of this seven-part series coming tomorrow!

About Rich Moreland

Rich Moreland is an adjunct professor of history at Frederick Community College in Maryland (USA) and writer in the adult film industry. His column appears online at Adult Industry News (AINews.com) out of Los Angeles. Rich's blog (3hattergrindhouse.com) covers relevant issues, film and book reviews and interviews with industry people.
A Washington, DC metro area resident, Rich has a bachelor's degree from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master's degree from Salisbury University. He finished post-masters work at the University of Maryland with Advanced Graduate Specialist recognition. He is a lifelong educator and a former competitive triathlete.

For a concise history of feminism in adult entertainment get Rich Moreland's book "Pornography Feminism: As Powerful as She Wants to Be" linked above.

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