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I Am Fucking Scared

Gabe Ginsberg. Getty Images.

Growing up, I wanted to be a sex worker. It sounds insane, I know; but I was always fascinated by pornstars and strippers and escorts. Whenever I watched television or movies, it was the slutty, promiscuous character I was drawn to the most. The reason for this has been mystery to many; contrary to what the media would like you to believe about people in my line of work, I was raised in a fairly normal household, lucky enough to be free of trauma and misfortune. Over the years, I've come to deduce that I'm simply hornier than the average human being, and my curiosity around sexuality is more intense than others. Much like how some people are just super into bird-watching or math. 

You might not believe it, but as a private school kid in New York City, aspirations to be a pornstar felt completely unattainable. Nobody I'd ever met was in porn, let alone sex work - really, saying I wanted to be a pornstar felt comparable to saying I wanted to be an astronaut, or president. In Barstool terms, you could say pornstars were idolized in the same fashion as athletes for me: Jenna Jameson was my Michael Jordan, Tera Patrick my… Scottie Pippen? I don't know enough to make this analogy, sorry, there's a reason I stick to dribbling balls in my mouth and not my hands. You get the point.

So when my opportunity came when I was 23, I jumped at it. I packed a duffle bag, caught a plane to the San Fernando Valley, and stayed for a decade. The industry wasn't as glamorous as I'd imagined; I drove myself to set, often dressed in my own wardrobe, and the film crew usually consisted of just me and a handful of other people. I certainly didn't find fame or fortune right away, but I didn't care. I was fucking for money. There was a camera following my every stroke as I sucked dick. I was exploring my sexuality in safe, empowering ways previously unfathomable to me. People all over the world were gonna be jerking off to me. My horniness as a woman, for once, was not only tolerated - it was applauded. THAT was the dream.

However, as lucky as I feel to have landed in my perfect job, my time in the industry has not been without its major downfalls. I've sacrificed relationships, my family, and friends in order to follow my dreams. Many doors have been permanently closed - participating in a porno means you've give up the possibility of most career paths, should you choose to leave. The majority of companies will not hire a woman once they realize they can see her getting gang banged on the internet. Even a company as open-minded and progressive as Barstool had to let me go after a one-year stint because advertisers were simply not down with me being associated with their brand. 

In the 13 years I've been in porn, there has not been a single moment this kind of discrimination has not loomed over my head. Whether it be social media platforms treating us with extreme bias, flagging and removing our profiles (which, in the age of Pornhub and OnlyFans, are crucial to our livelihood) for posts that would be happily overlooked if they were by anyone not in adult work; politicians attempting to (and often succeeding in) passing measures and laws that further put us in danger; or Christian evangelist groups trying to shut us down under the guise of "saving women and children," which is exactly what's happening right now.

To give you the briefest of summaries, a recent op-ed piece went viral, resulting in major lies about Pornhub to circulate. The article itself was a result of Exodus Cry (the aforementioned evangelist group) attacking Pornhub with claims that the company profits off of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). This is blatantly untrue. CSAM (along with other content such as rape and revenge porn) is absolutely, 100% prohibited on Pornhub. It's worth noting that Exodus Cry is anti-gay, anti-reproductive rights, and - most notably for the sake of this blog - anti-sex work. To quote their mission statement, their goals include, "abolishing the commercial sex industry."

In addition to being the first porn platform to take a stance on the very real issue of revenge porn (creating a dedicated page for the removal of it, where scenes are taken down within hours. Once videos are removed, they are fingerprinted to ensure they cannot be re-uploaded,) Pornhub is the only big media platform that has human moderators screening each and every video before it's published. Because of this precaution, third party reports state that when compared to other platforms (both mainstream and adult) Pornhub is among the best. I personally know people on the team at Pornhub that watch these videos awaiting publication day-in and day-out. Trust me when I say they are exposed to horrendous, awful, gruesome shit so that the rest of us don't have to be. As far as I'm concerned, these people are saints. Luckily, the company provides them ample access to psychotherapy, but I still can't imagine that's a remotely easy job. In the instances vile videos such as CSAM are submitted, Pornhub has always worked with authority to catch these sick predators. They are continuously searching for ways to better prevent these videos from ever seeing the light of day. They use third-party technologies such as CSAI match, photoDNA, and Google Content API. Recently, they banned all uploads from non-verified users, and removed ALL videos posted in the past by non-verified users and non-content partners. 

I saw something the other day about the "moderator's dilemma" - the predicament: of moderating, and the inevitability of making errors; OR, simply not moderating at all. It's obvious to me which is the correct thing to do, but I can see how that would be an unfortunate conundrum for a company nonetheless, setting themselves up for criticism either way. Again, taking this precaution is solely Pornhub, as far as big media platforms go - porn or otherwise. It's been made very clear that larger, more mainstream platforms are where the actual issue is, if Exodus Cry is really concerned about CSAM. But porn is an easier target. 

So, why does it matter what some extremist group is doing to Pornhub? Well, what's happening to Pornhub right now is not a war on Pornhub, sexual abuse, or child trafficking. It is a war on the sex industry, which is ultimately a war on our human rights. Make no mistake that these supposed "activist" groups are advantageously using examples of horrid situations victims have had to endure to push to their own anti-porn agenda. 

Like I said, I've never seen a moment of peace from this war - whether it be coming from the the far right, far left, up, or down, one thing all these anti-porn crusades have in common is that they are always led - dishonestly - in the name of "activism." Please, I beg of you, do not be fooled by this. Groups like Exodus Cry make no distinction between human trafficking and consensual sex work. Keep in mind that the very group these people are supposedly advocating for - that is, people in the sex industry - collectively agree that they are only hurting us, not helping us. It will only push us - an already marginalized group - further into the underground, where moderating and regulating will be harder to do, making porn an actual place of danger. 

What's scariest this time around for me - compared to any of the anti-porn wars fought before - is that Pornhub is arguably the biggest, most mainstream company our industry has ever seen. They are a household name, and have done more than any other company in the past to normalize porn. They donate millions, head campaigns to better the world (not just in areas of human sexuality, but also the environment, feminism, etc.) and are proudly supported by much of mainstream media. If they can be taken down by such hate, who is next? How are we, as an industry, safe? How are we, as sex workers, as individuals, safe? If even the almighty Pornhub is vulnerable, what does that mean for the rest of us?

I am most saddened because Pornhub has unapologetically stood as allies and defenders of us, when so many companies we work with have no. I did not think in 2020 that I would still have to prove over and over again that porn is not evil. That consenting adults engaging in sex is nothing to be ashamed of. It's a very sad, disheartening time… but I can't really say any of this is brand new. 

Thank you for reading all of this. I know it's not the usual Barstool material, and I appreciate you giving me the space to speak my thoughts on the industry I feel so passionately about. I will always continue to live as my true, horny self, and I will never give up on my right to do so. 

But I have to admit - I am fucking scared.