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The Victims of Pornography
Posted on Oct 11, 2009
By Chris Hedges
“Porn is like any other addiction,” Lubben says. “First, you are curious. Then you need harder and harder drugs to get off. You need gang bangs and bestiality and child porn. Porn gets grosser and grosser. We never did ass-to-mouth when I was in the industry. Now you get an award for it. And meanwhile the addicts make their wives feel like they can’t live up to the illusion of the porn star. The addict asks, ‘Why can’t she give blow jobs like a porn star?’ He wants what isn’t real. Porn destroys intimacy. I can always tell if a man is a porn addict. They’re shut down. They can’t look me in the eyes. They can’t be intimate.”
“When legal and social mores first changed and porn went mainstream in the 1970s, there was a standard sexual script, which included oral and vaginal sex, with anal sex relatively rare, ending with the ‘money’ or ‘come’ shot, where the man ejaculated onto the body of the woman,” Robert Jensen, the author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity, tells me over breakfast one Saturday morning at my home in Princeton. “But once there were thousands of porn films on the market, the porn industry had to expand that script to expand profits. It had to find new emotional thrills. It could have explored intimacy, love, the connection between two people, but this was not what appealed to the largely male audience. Instead, the industry focused on greater male control and cruelty. This started in the 1980s, with anal sex as a way for men to dominate women. It has descended to multiple penetrations, double anals, gagging and other forms of physical and psychological degradation.
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle
By Chris Hedges
Nation Books, 240 pages
“What does it say about our culture that cruelty is so easy to market?” Jensen asks. “What is the difference between glorifying violence in war and glorifying the violence of sexual domination? I think that the reason porn is so difficult for so many people to discuss is not that it is about sex—our culture is saturated in sex. The reason it is difficult is that porn exposes something very uncomfortable about us. We accept a culture flooded with images of women who are sexual commodities. Increasingly, women in pornography are not people having sex but bodies upon which sexual activities of increasing cruelty are played out. And many men—maybe a majority of men—like it.”
The cruelty takes a toll on the bodies, as well as the emotions, of porn actresses. Many suffer severe repeated vaginal and anal tears that require surgery.
The male stars are encouraged to be rough and hostile. Some, she says, “hated women. They would spit in my face. I was devastated the first time that happened, but I thought it was good they were rough because of my abusive relationships. I thought roughness in porn was OK. I would say, ‘Treat me like a little slut,’ or ‘I’m your bitch,’ or ‘Fuck me like a whore.’ I would say the most degrading things I could say about myself because I thought this was what it meant to be sexy and what people wanted to hear, or at least the people who buy the films. You are just a slut to those who watch. You are nothing. They want to see that we know that.”
She would shoot scenes with men who disgusted her, whose sweat and smell “made me cringe.” And when the lights went off and the cameras stopped, she would stumble off the set in pain, her face often covered with semen. “Sometimes they would hand you a paper towel to wipe your face off,” she says, “and sometimes they would say, ‘Don’t touch us. You’re gross.’ I remember the first time I had come all over my face. I was so pissed off, but I took it. I pretended to like everything they did. I took pride in being a good gonzo girl. My fame came from this.”
By the second year of shooting, with an income of $100,000, she had turned to drugs, including painkillers and muscle relaxants.
“The lifestyle of a porn star is to spend your money as soon as you make it on weed, alcohol, coke, ecstasy and Vicodin,” Roldan says. “I wanted to be the good gonzo girl they wanted me to be. I took this so I would not feel anything. By the next year, instead of only Vicodin I began to drink vodka, a whole bottle. Every girl I knew used alcohol. We were drinking so we did not feel the pain.”
In addition to being the author of “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle,” from which this excerpt is taken, Chris Hedges has written eight other books. His weekly Truthdig column is published every Monday.
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