Berean cogitations

Saturday, February 09, 2008

What's really going on in a porn star's mind?

For many men, the allure of porn is overwhelming. They look at these women who are willing to bare themselves on camera, and they find themselves filled with desire. They look at the men who get to perform all manner of sensual acts with them, and they are filled with envy. It's a devious snare.

Much has been said about how we must avoid temptation, purify our minds, and dwell on things from above. I wholeheartedly agree, but today, I'd like to approach this subject from a different angle. I'd like to talk about the dark underbelly of the porn industry. My fervent hope is that when men realize why women pursue a career in pornography, they'll be filled with pity and disgust rather than with sexual desire.

Why do women go into porn? Some say that it's for the money. Others say that it's because they simply like to have sex. Now, maybe that's true for some, but I think that the evidence shows otherwise.Various studies show that the majority of sex industry workers have been victims of sexual abuse as children. Consider the words of Dr. Mary Anne Layden, Director for Women's Psychological Health in Philadelphia.

"Most strippers, as with other women who work in the sex industry, are adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Research indicates the number is between 60%-80%. One study found that 35% of strippers have Multiple Personality Disorder, 55% had Borderline Personality Disorder, and 60% had Major Depressive Episodes, These are severe psychiatric problems and many of them are connected to childhood sexual abuse. These are women who when they were little girls would get into their beds each night and roll themselves into a fetal position and every night he would come in and peel her open. The physical and visual invasion of little girl's bodies damages them psychologically and gives them a psychologically unhealthy view of sexuality. Often as adults they reenact their childhood trauma by working as strippers, Playboy models, and prostitutes. The men who, now as customers, physically and visually invade the adult women's bodies, reenact the role of the perpetrator. These women work in the sex industry because it feels like home."

Shelley Lubben, a former porn actress, corroborates this claim. She admits to having been abused as a child, and as an industry insider, she saw what the world of pornography was really like. Her MySpace page also contains testimonies from other sex workers who likewise attest that they suffered the trauma of sexual abuse.

Consider as well the testimony of infamous porn star Traci Lords, who said in a Fox News interview,

"Well, I grew up in a small town in Ohio , and when I was 10 years old, I was raped by a high school boy that was about 16. And from there, my mother had an older boyfriend that molested me, so my entire childhood was really shaped by these really traumatic sexual experiences, which ultimately led me to the streets of Hollywood and to porn."

But what about those sex workers who claim that they were never abused, and that they simply enjoy having sex? In response, I urge people to consider the words of Carol Smith, former porn performer. In the book, Not for Sale, she is quoted as saying,

"When you suffer from childhood sexual abuse or were severely abused as a child, you usually repress those memories. You are unable to say, ‘I am doing this because I was abused as a child and this is all I know how to do. This is all I know how to feel.' I think a lot of the women are in denial…and they don't realize what post-traumatic stress disorder is. You either totally go a whole different direction and turn your life around and get as far away from that abuse as you can – or you re-live the experience, and a lot of these women are re-living what they know how to feel."

"Wait a minute!" some protest. "Not all sexual abuse victims go into porn. Doesn't this disprove your claim?" No, it doesn't. Remember, the claim isn't that sexual abuse invariably leads to a porn career. Rather, it's that the majority of porn industry workers were the victims of such abuse. There's a rather large difference between the two claims.

So the next time you feel tempted to rent an X-rated DVD or to download a steamy sex video, remember this: These women who perform for your pleasure are probably doing so because they have been violated in the most horrific and degrading of ways. They are reaching out for love in the only way that seems normal to them. Would you wish this kind of fate on your own sisters or children?