Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Comment is free What's all the fuss about the 'feminist porn star' James Deen?

Most men in the porn industry are not misogynists – like Deen they are decent guys who just enjoy the company of women

James Deen porn star
'Pornographic exemplars such as James Deen are rare in their success, but not in their decency.' Photograph: Gideon Ponte
Whenever porn stars get near to crossing over to the mainstream, the press bestows exaggerated status on them. Such has been the case with James Deen, who has been eulogised by novelist Bret Easton Ellis and hailed in the British press as the first "feminist pornstar", because he "looks his partners in the eye" and "whispers a constant stream of presumably sexy things in their ears".

Pornographic exemplars such as Deen are rare in their success, but not in their decency. Nor are they particularly unusual. I can remember asking fellow porn producers why the mainstream media was making such a fuss about Jenna Jameson, out of all the interesting and bright actresses working in the industry. We all shrugged.
Despite many people believing male porn stars to be misogynistic, the reality is they tend to be men who enjoy the company of women. The fact porn films sometimes require performances from men that can perceived to be misogynistic does not necessarily mean that the films, or the actors, are misogynistic themselves. In fact, most of the individuals involved are usually aware that they are putting on a performance that must be understood within friendly parentheses.

In a recent interview with the Good Men Project, Deen mentions leaving one porn production because he "didn't like the premise" of the film:
"Girls acted like they did something 'bad', like step on my shoe, and then I'd have rough sex to punish them. It made me feel icky."
He goes on to say:
"At [BDSM conglomerate] Kink, this girl and I are having awesome sex and she likes to get slapped in the face. The sex isn't punishment. It's BDSM lifestyle, and they make it super clear it's the girl's fantasy."
Porn stars choose the porn industry as a dream job, often over other equally well-paid job opportunities. Many years ago, I had problems convincing people that I had chosen to shoot porn films after graduating with a film degree from St Martin's. Shooting pornography was never a second choice for me – which is just as well, because it's not great on the CV.
Over the last 14 years I have filmed graduates, university students, ex-lawyers and photographers. The work offers a highly paid and exciting alternative to the tedious monotony of many other jobs. Anti-porn campaigners find it impossible to accept that young people might dream of shagging good-looking people on camera, showing off their bodies and accessing a huge adoring fan base that sometimes shower the stars with gifts.

The quotes from Deen will leave such anti-porn protesters cold. After all, how can a male porn star profess sensitivities to their female counterparts then go on to supposedly justify violence in the next paragraph? The answer lies in the fact that power plays a part in many people's sexual fantasies, including enlightened women. Which is where good-looking young men such as James Dean or James Deen feature.
When I was young, for example, I had sexual fantasies about strapping young men (sailors!) who instinctively knew the line between sexually attractive male assertiveness and unwanted sexual aggression (they tied me to the mast of the boat!).

I am working on a website that aims to tell the public what it is like to consent to working in the various erotic industries and enjoy it. It's called We Consent, because we do. Our side of the story needs telling. Although Deen and others are doing well, those that choose to sell sex for a living face discrimination and are the focus of a self-interested "rescue industry", who seek to impose "salvation" on participants.
 http://xf5.xanga.com/f68f905b36630277022574/m220709291.jpg http://www4.pictures.gi.zimbio.com/James+Deen+Adult+Video+News+Awards+Mandalay+lAd3Dz5TO5yl.jpg
When I hear Deen say that if he were to do a feature film for Steven Spielberg, he'd ask for more money because "I don't get to have sex", I say: long live those who choose to work in the erotic industries for being brave enough to follow their dreams. I hope the mainstream film exposure for James will enhance his porn career so he can continue to work in a job he loves without needing to sell out to the boring side of the movies.

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