Mireille Miller-Young, an associate professor of feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Read all about her perspective on porn!
“The familiar rhetoric about pornography as violent, degrading, and harmful to women and society ignores the diverse ways that women interact with it. As a researcher of the porn industry for the past decade, I have interviewed dozens of performers and have found a much more varied picture of pornography in women’s lives than characterized by antiporn activists.
For instance, I have found that women enter the porn industry because they are enthusiastic about its potential for lucrative, flexible and independent work. Women who previously worked in the retail sector or nursing found that pornography offered them greater control of their labor, and surprisingly, it treated them with more humanity. Some women found that it enabled them to rise out of poverty, take care of their families or go to college. Others emphasize the creative aspects of pornography and say it allows them to increase their economic mobility while also making a bold statement about female pleasure.
According to the performers I interviewed, the greatest challenge faced by women who work in the pornography business, in addition to social stigma, is gender and racial inequality. Overwhelmingly, women do not control the production and distribution apparatus of the business. The men who run both the large companies and the smaller, amateur businesses tend to marginalize women’s perspectives and priorities and to foster a competitive environment that pits female workers against one another.
Porn’s workers are fighting to achieve greater control over their labor and the products they produce.
The Internet is fast democratizing the porn business. Women from all kinds of backgrounds – soccer moms, single mothers, college students – are filming themselves living out their dirty fantasies, and they are broadcasting these images to the world. My interviewees show that pornography is an industry with both tremendous potential and important constraints.
The women who work in pornography believe that we should not treat porn as an intractable behemoth and social evil, but they emphasize that it can be made better, particularly about workers’ rights. The debate about pornography should not be controlled only by academics, politicians or religious groups; a voice should be given to the performers and their complex experiences.”