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Old 07-14-2011, 07:52 PM   #1
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"The Hardcore truth about women in porn"

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The Hardcore truth about women in porn

UK Feminista is to rescreen the 2001 documentary Hardcore that offers a horrifying glimpse into the abuse of women in porn – in a bid to combat the argument that it's just 'people having sex'

An old controversy has arisen over pornography; not the usual ruck about whether it is harmful to women, but a debate over the viewing of women being abused during the making of it.

This Monday UK Feminista is screening the documentary Hardcore, which offers a horrifying glimpse into the industry.

First screened on Channel 4 in 2001, it follows Felicity, a 25-year-old single mother living in the UK, who is desperate to make money to improve her daughter's opportunities. She is invited by a porn agent to meet movers and shakers in the so-called US 'adult industry'. The audience watches as she goes from a bright, sparky, pretty woman to a cynical and emotionally exhausted shell.

Her agent introduces her to performer Max Hardcore, notorious for abusing and humiliating women during filming. Aware of his reputation for choking women during oral sex – and that he often asks his co-stars to wear little girls' clothes – Felicity did not want to meet him, let alone work with him, yet she is pressured by her agent until she agrees.

When Hardcore chokes her she breaks down in tears, but he insists on her continuing, calling her a "fucking loser" and she is almost persuaded to continue until the documentary crew steps in for fear of being complicit in her rape.

Feminist group Scottish Women against Pornography says it should never be screened, saying it is a "filmed rape of Felicity" which will be "endlessly re-enacted long after she is gone". But in the early 1980s, Women Against Violence Against Women compiled a "slide show" of pornographic images, and activists, including myself, gave presentations to anti-pornography women's groups. The images ranged from Playboy centrefolds to a Hustler image of a woman being fed headfirst into a meat grinder, and a cartoon of a learning disabled child being penetrated by a penis in one of her ears with the semen shooting out of the other.

Undoubtedly, a number of those at the meetings were upset but the knowledge gleaned was an essential tool with which to fight the liberals when they argue that porn is "just pictures of people having sex". Other human rights campaigners rely on disturbing imagery to add strength to their arguments: footage of animals being caged and tortured; images of men being lynched in the American south by the Ku Klux Klan; pictures of mass graves in conflict zones.

UK Feminista acknowledges the film makes difficult viewing, but says it depicts the true face of the oft-glamorised porn industry. And importantly Felicity, who left the porn industry after the documentary, did consent to the film being shown.

We need to know the truth about the porn industry to be able to effectively campaign against it. Hardcore tells the truth. Watch it.

Hardcore will be screened in London on 18 July, at 6.30pm. See ukfeminista.org.uk


The Hardcore truth about women in porn | Culture | The Guardian
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:15 PM   #2
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Let me just throw down the gauntlet here and say I've always been a bit mystified by the casual "no-big deal" attitude that many of us have towards pornography, when to me what is going on in a lot of it is so blatantly wrong and goes against the very values we claim to defend.
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:36 PM   #3
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Let me just throw down the gauntlet here and say I've always been a bit mystified by the casual "no-big deal" attitude that many of us have towards pornography, when to me what is going on in a lot of it is so blatantly wrong and goes against the very values we claim to defend.
Max Hardcore's movies do not seem representative of adult material in general, and in fact he has served jail time for "transporting obscene material". Given the ready availablity of porn nowadays, and, as you say, the casual "no-big deal" attitude much of society has towards pornography now, you really have to go pretty far to attract the attentions of the FBI and serve jail time for "transporting obscene material".

The main concern I would have is people may get into the 'industry' for the wrong reasons, e.g. people who are already psychologically damaged in some way, and end up being exploited. People who already have an unhealthy sexuality, for whatever reasons, are not going to get cured by becoming pornstars. But, I don't accept that involvement in the industry is necessarily exploitative, I think that's too broad a claim by half.
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:06 PM   #4
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Has anyone else read David Foster Wallace's essay about attending the annual porn industry awards? Max Hardcore figures rather prominently in that. Wallace talks briefly about the subgenre of porn Max Hardcore more or less pioneered, which he describes as notable for featuring women in especially degrading situations. Wallace draws some kind of distinction (I think still with reference to Max Hardcore) between porn for men who just want to see something arousing vs. porn for men who have issues with women and like to watch them being humiliated. (Or something to that effect--anyway, I found this distinction rather useless, since where one draws the line between the two is ultimately arbitrary and depends on whatever you deem it normal to be aroused by.) He also does comment at some length to the effect that most of the directors (men) at the event seemed like assholes, while most of the actors (women) seemed extremely jaded, bored and disinterested (though he acknowledges at one point that this perception may have been heightened by an unrealistic expectation on his part that they'd somehow turn out to really be erotic dynamos who go around joyously exuding sexual availability rather than, well, actors).

Obviously there's still a pretty big stigma attached to being a porn industry worker, and I have no idea how regulation of that industry works in practice, so I wouldn't be surprised if extremely unpleasant working conditions are commonplace. The psychological effects of the finished products on viewers is really a separate issue.
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Old 07-15-2011, 02:41 AM   #5
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Recently, I really like that sensual porn aimed at the ladies. Just thought I'd throw that out there.
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Old 07-15-2011, 03:00 AM   #6
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I only watch it for the story lines.
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Old 07-15-2011, 08:09 AM   #7
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I was confused for a minute b/c there is already a movie (1979) called Hardcore Hardcore (1979) - IMDb
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Old 07-15-2011, 11:16 AM   #8
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there's a lot of money in porn.

i have no doubt that the lower levels of the porn industry are probably filled with the despairing and the damaged, but at the upper levels, when stars are worth millions in sales, and the entire industry is worth billions, people are likely well taken care of. i know that Larry Flint has said that the safest place to have sex is on the set of porn because everyone is tested for STDs rigorously and it's not like any guy is going to turn abusive on you or be drunk or on drugs.

i found this interesting:

Quote:
He also does comment at some length to the effect that most of the directors (men) at the event seemed like assholes, while most of the actors (women) seemed extremely jaded, bored and disinterested (though he acknowledges at one point that this perception may have been heightened by an unrealistic expectation on his part that they'd somehow turn out to really be erotic dynamos who go around joyously exuding sexual availability rather than, well, actors).

jaded actors and asshole directors can likely be found at any level of the entertainment industry, and i think that Wallace is right to come to the realization that these aren't sexually evolved human beings, they're more like sexual athletes who have been hired to perform on command. and film making is a laborious process, and it's much more enjoyable when you don't know how the sausages are made. there are angles that must be gotten, lighting that must be adjusted, shots that need to be reshot. it's very much work.

i obviously don't work in porn. but my guess is that, at it's legit levels, it has much in common with the film industry.

i will also say that even mainstream straight porn often makes me uncomfortable. but perhaps that's a paternalistic attitude on my part where the depiction of sexuality seems to be something that men "do" to women.
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Old 07-15-2011, 01:15 PM   #9
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i have no doubt that the lower levels of the porn industry are probably filled with the despairing and the damaged, but at the upper levels, when stars are worth millions in sales, and the entire industry is worth billions, people are likely well taken care of. i know that Larry Flint has said that the safest place to have sex is on the set of porn because everyone is tested for STDs rigorously and it's not like any guy is going to turn abusive on you or be drunk or on drugs.
This isn't met by the facts.

The Adult Film Industry: Time to Regulate?

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Between January 2003 and March 2005, approximately 976 performers were reported with 1,153 positive STD test results. Of the 1,153 positive test results, 722 (62.6 %) were chlamydia, 355 (30.8%) were gonorrhea, and 126 (10.9%) were coinfections with chlamydia and gonorrhea [10]. Less is known about the prevalence and risk of transmission of other STDs such as syphilis, herpes simplex virus, human papillomavirus, hepatitis B or C, trichomonal infection, or diseases transmitted through the fecal–oral route.
Additionally, in the aftermath of yet another STD outbreak in 2010 (in this case, HIV, after numerous other STD outbreaks, most notably in 1998 and 2004), one report stated that "although state officials maintain condoms already are required under workplace rules concerning the transmission of bodily fluids, they are rarely used in straight porn films because producers say they depress sales."

This is corroborated by an ABC News story after another actress tested positive for HIV in 2009.

SoCal Porn Actress Tests HIV Positive - ABC News

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Dean Fryer, California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokesperson, said he's not sure the adult film industry safety guidelines his organization helped define are being followed. In particular, he voiced concerns that condoms are not used.

"I'm concerned that a lot of producers are not using condoms or using film techniques so as to film a simulation rather than a sexual act," Fryer said. "That troubles me."

Fryer said Cal/Osha is currently identifying the infected woman and her employer in an attempt to understand whether production on the actress's films was performed in a safe manner. He said the Los Angeles public health department is also conducting an investigation.

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, health officer for Los Angeles County, was also troubled by the lack of condom use.

"I don't know any other people that are unnecessarily exposed to life-threatening diseases as a condition of work. People need special equipment. Can you imagine fire fighters fighting fires without protective gear or police on the beat without some way of arming themselves?" asked Fielding.

While HIV is an issue, Fielding said the more pervasive problem was sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea. He said AIM notifies the Department of Public Health of about 15 new infections a week.

"These are serious problems," said Fielding.
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Old 07-15-2011, 02:27 PM   #10
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if you compared porn actors to a segment of any given population, i would guess you'd find lower HIV rates.

and OSHA doesn't get involved in the sex lives of ordinary people. it shows that porn actors have rights should their workplace safety rights be violated.

if anything, this calls for increased regulation of the porn industry, rather than outlawing it or banning it or cracking down on it. there's always going to be a demand.

but i will look into this more. i was going off the top of my head.
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Old 07-15-2011, 04:40 PM   #11
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here's the Larry Flint article i was thinking of ...

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Porn World's Sky Isn't Falling -- It Doesn't Need a Condom Rule
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April 23, 2004|Larry Flynt | Larry Flynt is the publisher of Hustler magazine. His company, Larry Flynt Productions, produces about 500 adult films a year. His book "Sex, Lies & Politics: The Naked Truth" (Kensington) will be published in July.

If you're going to have sex, the adult film industry is probably the safest place to have it, the recent HIV cases notwithstanding.

That's because employers like me require that every performer in the business be tested every 30 days, not just for HIV but for gonorrhea and chlamydia as well. It's because of such aggressive testing that this HIV outbreak in the adult industry has been caught early and can be controlled. In other words, the industry's approach to HIV safety is working. I believe that additional regulation would not only be unnecessary, it would be counterproductive.

The adult film industry in Southern California is not being run by a bunch of dirty old men in the back room of some sleazy warehouse. Today, in the state, XXX entertainment is a $9-billion-to-$14-billion business run with the same kind of thought and attention to detail that you'd find at GE, Mattel or Tribune Co.

As of this writing, only two people have tested positive in the current scare -- Darren James, thought to be the original carrier, and Lara Roxx, who is assumed to have been exposed to the disease by James. (It's worth noting that James is believed to have been exposed to the AIDS virus when he shot an adult movie in Brazil, where the industry does not have the same testing system or standards in place.) Fifty-three other adult film actors who had sexual contact with James and Roxx -- in an industry of approximately 1,200 performers -- are currently under "quarantine," according to Sharon Mitchell of the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation. Both AIM and Adult Video News, the leading industry news website, have urged a production moratorium until June 8, a 60-day hiatus from the first positive test results. By then, the industry should be able to confirm that the outbreak hasn't spread.

My company is following those recommendations. The other major players in the industry are doing the same.

Now let's talk about testing. The adult film industry uses the PCR/DNA test, the Cadillac of HIV testing. It has the highest level of accuracy and the quickest detection time of any testing method -- two weeks from exposure, give or take a day or two. Using that test, the adult film industry has been very effective at and responsible in voluntarily regulating itself. After all, with a protocol in place and tests easily available, what performer in his right mind would do an adult film without seeing the test results of his colleagues? AIM has detected only 11 HIV cases since 1998.

Public health officials in Los Angeles County and the state are using the cases of James and Roxx to try to force the use of condoms in all adult films. That may sound like a good idea, but it's not. Market testing -- and conventional wisdom -- tells us that films that feature actors wearing condoms don't sell. That means that forcing condom use on the industry is more likely to have a negative rather than positive effect on HIV protection. It would drive the industry underground or out of state to where there is no testing, let alone a condom requirement. The net result would surely be more HIV infections.

State and county officials are resurrecting another suggestion -- that the industry poses a threat not just to the performers but to the general public as well, because performers also have sex outside the industry. This, I believe, is utter nonsense intended to scare people into regulating adult films. You have a greater likelihood of getting HIV from your neighbor, who is not tested on a regular basis, than from a performer in the industry whose medical records are, in effect, an open book.

Ira Levine, chairman of the board of directors of AIM, points out that "the speed with which AIM 'quarantined' these people illustrates how the adult industry has the most effective HIV prevention protocol in the USA, more effective than any other prevention program in L.A. County." Levine also notes that AIM has kept out of the industry a significant number of actors who couldn't pass the HIV test.

Those of us who are in the business want to protect our investment; we are not going to do anything that is stupid or shortsighted. We are most certainly not going to do anything that we believe will harm another human being. The safeguards are already in place. They have worked for the last five years. Leave them alone, and they will continue to work.

Porn World's Sky Isn't Falling -- It Doesn't Need a Condom Rule - Los Angeles Times
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Old 07-15-2011, 05:16 PM   #12
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The porn industry is big business these days. The bigger it gets, the more outside investment money comes in, and the more production companies are held accountable for making sure their talent is regularly tested for STIs and HIV.

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if you compared porn actors to a segment of any given population, i would guess you'd find lower HIV rates.
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Old 07-15-2011, 05:47 PM   #13
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the difference, of course, is that one's job as a porn actor exposes you to potentially lethal substances, whereas one engages in sexual activity on one's free time.

and, fwiw, i don't find porn actors a turn on, really. their bodies are so overdeveloped they look like cartoons to me. i'd like an element of plausibility in my consumption of fake sex.
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Old 07-15-2011, 05:58 PM   #14
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That's true, but from what I've learned (I listen to numerous comedy podcasts that sometimes have adult stars on as guests), working talent are not exactly doing it 3-4 times a week. More like 3-4 shoots a month. There are many other industries out there that are without a doubt more dangerous (life-threatening) and more time is spent on the job in the vicinity of danger.

If we as a society can still morally justify crab fishing and working on an oil rig, surely we can find some room to allow for an increasingly safer, increasingly accountable porn industry.

After all, all those empty houses in chi-chi California suburbs have to be rented out for SOME reason, anyway. Just make sure to shrinkwrap the furniture!

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the difference, of course, is that one's job as a porn actor exposes you to potentially lethal substances, whereas one engages in sexual activity on one's free time.
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:08 PM   #15
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If we as a society can still morally justify crab fishing and working on an oil rig, surely we can find some room to allow for an increasingly safer, increasingly accountable porn industry.


true, this.

but we have an enormous overreaction to all aspects of sexuality in our culture. the "porn menace" being one of them.

but then, i do know well certified shrinks who will say that porn can be an addiction, and it can ruin relationships, and people can prefer to masturbate to porn rather than have sex with their partners.

this hardly seems the porn industry's fault, though. at least no more than any other industry that pushes a product with downsides.

and think of how many STDs and unwanted pregnancies have been prevented because someone stayed home instead of going out and getting drunk.
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