March 04, 2016 05:56am
Source: Adult Industry News
by: Rich Moreland
New Girls - Part four of the Consent Series by Rich Moreland
Some girls, especially those in their teens, come into porn with naiveté written all over them. However, "barely legal" means more than age; it describes youngsters who have never had a real job, much less a career.
They are about to get paid big bucks for doing on camera what they previously gave away back home. While their old high school friends are heading for college or working service jobs for a few hundred dollars a week, wide-eyed newbies are swept away by Hollywood glamor in a setting where no real skill level is required... just open up for the camera.
But there's a catch, the industry is competitive. Supply and demand pressures quickly shape a girl's job prospects. "They [new girls] are told there's a lot of performers and there's not a lot of work so you better be really good or no one's going to want to book you," Ela Darling says. To keep getting those calls, "you're expected to do everything possible [for the camera]."
Understanding that, how can we expect them to assert their rights on a film set?
Ela puts the onus on agents. They are "ethically responsible for new performers," She believes. The girls are adults, yes, but inexperienced. They don't understand the business culture in general, be it porn or a job in the civilian world, or how to "voice their concerns with a boss." It's a set up for ignoring limits on the set, prompting Ela to insist performers be aware they can say "no" anytime and leave anytime.
That's important because new talent is "very vulnerable" and easily taken advantage of, Ela says. The firewall against this abuse, she claims, "lies with the people who have been in this industry for years." They should take ownership in working with, and educating, new talent.
Fair enough, but there's another point to consider.
Natasha Nice believes that hidden attitudes about sexuality feed a cultural mindset that negatively affects porn girls, especially new ones. Society frowns upon sex in front of a camera and hangs labels on performers. Newcomers know what slut, whore, and tramp mean and may use the identifiers on themselves in half-hearted, humorous ways. But internally a girl can feel conflicted.
A performer thinks she is less a person as a result of her profession, Natasha says. Or if she feels shame because "society has told her she is a bad person, she's less likely to say 'no' or 'stop'" during a shoot if her no list is violated. "Pair that with a director whose job it is to get hardcore content and the girl doesn't speak up, he's going to go as far as he can."
Regret seeps in.
"She might go home after the scene and be like 'I didn't like that,' because she thought she couldn't say anything," Natasha says.
It's a typical response twenty-six year old Casey Calvert recognizes. She insists the industry should be more cognizant of how to set newcomers at ease.
"Nobody wants them to go home feeling violated or upset. Everybody wants them to go home feeling good," the superstar declares.
Of course, but does that mean minds are changed?
Natasha comments, "It's no secret that men in porn and men everywhere think women, especially porn stars, should just shut up and take it."
Her statement is a red flag and thanks to James Deen and Stoya, consent is now a dialogue, hopefully improving awareness.
"It's one of the things we're working on as an industry, especially now that people are talking about how do we make new girls feel comfortable speaking up and how do we make sure they know it's okay [to do so.]," Casey states.
Interestingly, it may have little to do with age, at least for some performers. Listen to Allie Haze.
"I could be twenty-five and be super manipulative or I could be eighteen and be smarter than the twenty-five year old. It has nothing to do with age. It has to do with your maturity level and there is no way to determine that." Nevertheless, Allie is adamant that "no one should be in that situation where they feel like they need to find an escape or a way out. That's what breaks my heart, that's what makes me sad."
So, we return to the central issue, what can the industry do to assure consent is honored?
Perhaps the first step is education, our next discussion.
Watch for Part Five of this seven-part series coming tomorrow! Previous parts of this series are linked in the Related Stories box in the top right of this page.
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.