3 Ugly Facts About the Porn Industry

Why do women get into the porn industry?

Dr. Sharon Mitchell co-founded the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, also called AIM. For about 20 years she was a porn actress and director herself, and after opening her clinic, saw well over 1000 porn stars every month for STD testing, so it’s probably safe to say she knows a thing or two about porn stars. Dr. Mitchell says there are three types of women drawn to pornography: those who are desperate for money, those who are desperate for fame, and those who are addicted to sex.

In my opinion, these three primary motivations open for us three windows into the world of pornography, three ugly facts about it.

Desperate for Money

The first type of motivation, someone who is desperate for money, is very common in the industry, and it shatters the illusion that pornography is just a celebration of a woman’s free choice. Legal scholar Catherine MacKinnon offers this insight:

“As with all prostitution, the women and children in pornography are, in the main, not there by choice but because of a lack of choices. They usually “consent” only in a degraded and demented sense of the word…in which a person who despairs at stopping what is happening, sees no escape, has no real alternative, was often sexually abused before as a child, may be addicted to drugs, is homeless, hopeless, is often trying to avoid being beaten or killed, is almost always economically desperate, acquiesces in being sexually abused for payment.”

Desperate for Fame

The second type of motivation mentioned by Dr. Mitchell is someone who is desperate for fame. Dr. Mitchell says this is the kind of woman, she believes, who have the most crucial needs, because of why they are addicted to fame. They come to L.A. thinking porn is going to be a backdoor to Hollywood only to be profoundly disappointed. Furthermore, the reason they are so drawn to the infamy porn offers them, she says, is because they come from a very bad family life, some of them survivors of abuse or neglect. Acting out of that brokenness, they sell themselves for the camera hoping it will earn them the attention they desire.

Probably the one female porn star who has become more famous than any other today is Jenna Jameson. Reading her own memoir, you can see how driven to fame she was, and in some sense she succeeded. But listen to her own words:

“I never take the time to feel the effects of my choices. Maybe it’s because I would be ashamed, maybe afraid. I realize I have avoided my pain for as long as I can remember. It’s what I’ve been taught. Be strong little one…Things can only get better. As life goes racing by me, all the while my soul goes on with sickness. Yes, sickness. It feels like it’s ailing. Because the one that should be nursing it is too busy trying to succeed and be accepted. I’m certainly scared that if I try to fix what has broken in me, so long ago, I may not succeed. So I go on faking that I am whole, proud, and strong…”

Addicted to Sex

The last type of motivation, the woman who is addicted to sex, is the face of porn’s PR today—the woman who portrays herself as just a well-rounded nymphomaniac, who just loves being the center of male sexual attention. For instance, I was reading an interview with one actress who said before getting into porn, she had already had sex with 98 men. In her own words, “Sex plays a massively huge role in my life because I worship sex.”

People often ask: what could be wrong with this? Here are women who know what they love and are able to make money doing it. Here’s the problem: by definition, someone who is hyper-sexual is not a well-rounded person. I’m not here talking about someone who loves sex or has lots of sex. I’m talking about someone who has an obsessive and compulsive pursuit of sex, which can be a symptom of all kinds of psychiatric problems.

If someone is suffering from some kind of hypersexual disorder, is it virtuous to feed this person’s condition? This would be like finding individuals with PraderWilli Syndrome, which is a genetic disease that includes the symptom of constant hunger, and then entering them into an eating contest for others to watch for entertainment.

No matter the level of consent a woman gives to being exploited, it is a virtuous thing to treat a woman who has forgotten her dignity with dignity nonetheless.

Sadly, many women have also been trafficked into porn. Read more about this in our blogpost “The Connections Between Pornography and Sex Trafficking”.