Thursday, February 16, 2012
Amanda Seyfried and the Next Linda Lovelace
On women claiming to enter porn acting on their own terms, Amanda commented, “That’s absolutely possible. There are two sides to it. There are still women who are being forced into pornography. And then there are women who feel that it’s empowering.”—Amanda Seyfried quoted in the article From Porn Star to Waif
I hope Amanda isn’t referring to the modern American mainstream porn business with that comment—although I'm sure she is—because she'd be more correct, unfortunately, if she was talking about prostitution, sexual slavery and kiddie porn. (I’m reluctant to use Wikipedia to back up any point about anything, but there are too many valid reference links in this article to list individually.)
If Amanda’s referring to women in videos made by a man committing a rape or a man having sex with a girl coerced into the act through the use of drugs or alcohol, well, sure, that does happen. But that’s not “pornography” in the most commonly used sense of the word these days, much less in the context I believe she was using it. That’s a videotape of a rape, plain and simple.
But if Amanda’s talking about any of the hundreds upon hundreds of women appearing in the approximately 10,000 DVDs released annually by the legal, above-ground commercial adult industry, she’s . . . uh . . . misinformed, to say the least.
I've interviewed and spoken with female adult performers for over 20 years, and they've all had a different reason for entering porn. For some it’s rebellion; Andrea True once told me that she did porn as a “political act.” For some it’s to indulge their exhibitionist side, a point with which I think Nina Hartley and Alexandra Silk would agree. For some, if not most, the reason is financial (and again, there are far too many examples to list here).
True, some of those reasons also include low self-esteem, drug abuse, financial hardship and plain old bad decision making, and yes, there are women who did performed sex on film and later regretted it. Katja Kassin is one. Shelley Lubben is another; you can find lots of provocative quotes from her as well as porn performers past and present on her website. (Keep in mind that Shelley’s site is decidedly anti-porn, so the original context for some quotes isn't given.) But neither Katja nor Shelley nor the people quoted on Shelley's site claim to have been forced into porn, as Linda claimed she was back in 1971.
I mentioned to Linda during the interview for the final chapter of my book The Complete Linda Lovelace that her rise to fame helped create the profit motive that would, in part, keep women safe from the form of abuse she claimed to have endured with Chuck Traynor: Women entered the porn business willingly because there was the chance for women to become, ironically enough, the next Linda Lovelace. Linda accepted that, although she didn’t necessarily endorse it. Her comments were almost always in reference to her own experiences and not those of other women, although that line became somewhat blurred when she began repeating feminist anti-porn talking points in the ’80s, which were generally given in regards to child porn.
If anyone reading this can provide evidence that, as Amanda claims, "There are still women being forced into pornography"—evidence that is recent and valid in addition to being statistical, empirical and/or scientific, not just personal or anecdotal—please send it along. I’d love to see it.