The following is one of three reports written for publication in the feminist newsjournal off our backs, the other two being Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture and The New Antipornography Slide Show.
Pornography and Pop Culture: Reframing Theory, Rethinking Activism
was a conference held at Wheelock College in Boston in March 2007 to reinvigorate the feminist antipornography movement and introduce modern methods of organizing resistance to an increasingly pornified culture.
Pornography, Prostitution & Sex Trafficking: How Do You Tell the Difference?
Melissa Farley and Rachel Lloyd reported by S.M. Berg
Pornography is prostitution. It’s seems like such a simple
statement of fact but hearing Dr. Melissa Farley say it evoked a mixture of
both common sense and something sinister lurking in the margins of that
plainspoken truth. Paying someone for sex is prostitution regardless of whether
or not cameras record it, but ask people how California
can be the porn capital of the world despite prostitution’s illegality and
you’ll be faced with stymied expressions.
Dr. Farley has seen such stymied faces many times before. A
researcher and clinical psychologist, in 1995 she founded the San
Francisco nonprofit Prostitution Research and
Education to share researched facts about the sex industries. During her
presentation she drew clearer lines between pornography and prostitution than
most people prefer not to dwell on even if they sort of know how these crimes
against women go down. Evidence presented to re-integrate prostituted women
into critiques of pornography that euphemistically refers to them as
“actresses” and “stars” included:
- 49% of 854 prostituted persons
reported pornography was
made of them while they were prostituting.
- The Bunny Ranch brothel in Nevada
has porn made at it,
and pornographers purchase brothels in Nevada.
- an ad for a strip club boasted
they were “Breeding pornstars
one girl at a time.”
Prostituted women who had pornography made of them had
significantly more PTSD than others. Knowing their sexual abuse is
entertainment for thousands of men around the world greatly exacerbated their
symptoms as did the lifelong fear they would be 'found out' as prostitutes.
Rachel Lloyd followed Dr. Farley’s research-heavy opener by
putting a human face, her own, on the statistics of pornography’s intersections
with prostitution. Lloyd came from an impoverished home in England where her
mother was an alcoholic and her father was absent, so she left school at
thirteen to do the best she could fending for herself. Growing up she saw
sexpot singer Samantha Fox topless on The
Sun’s infamous page 3 and knew she wanted to be a Page 3 Girl, so when at
age 14 she got the chance to do some modeling she jumped at the chance.
would be several years before she turned her first trick in a German strip
club, but what Lloyd wanted to get across to the audience was that she had been
primed for the eventual leap into prostitution by pornography her whole life.
Lloyd stressed that it takes a whole pornified village to instill the idea into
young girls that their worth is wrapped entirely in their sexual availability
After two years of exploitation in the sex industry, a fight
with an abusive pimp that left her with a long scar on her hand was the final
straw and Lloyd changed her life. She founded Girls Educational & Mentoring
Services (GEMS), a New York
organization that provides support to underage girls in the sex industry and
lobbies for legislation aimed at protecting sexually exploited youth. Her
commitment to helping young girls escape sexual exploitation brought her to
Wheelock’s pornography conference because pornography is most girls’ first
introduction to prostitution. Dr. Farley had quoted one prostituted woman as
saying, “We were all introduced to prostitution by pornography” and the
personal testimony Lloyd offered reinforced that pornography is used to
convince girls that prostitutes are what they really want to be.
Melissa Farley is a clinical psychologist and founder and director of Prostitution Research and Education in San Francisco. She is editor of Prostitution, Trafficking and Traumatic Stress.
Rachel Lloyd, a sex industry survivor, is the founder of Girls Educational Mentoring Services (GEMS), and organization that provides support to underage girls in the sex industry in New York City.
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