Porn for Tuition: A deeper look into Duke’s Porn Star

Before I even get into this article let me just make one thing clear: working in the porn industry will make you more than your regular minimum wage job as a cashier,

but it wont make you rich either.

Check out some quotes from The Hollywood Reporters article on Mark Spiegler, one of the top agents in the porn industry, on making money in porn:

” While a decade ago the average female performer would make about $100,000 a year, Spiegler says she now might make as little as $50,000 — all while juggling responsibilities such as social-media outreach and personal appearances.”

“According to Miller, from the thousands of hopefuls, there are between 200 and 300 “in-demand” women (termed “models”) who work regularly, shooting between 100 and 150 scenes a year. “A popular girl is going to work a minimum of 10 times per month,” he says.”

“But here, in the shadows of Hollywood, the world’s pornographers are at a crossroads, much like their mainstream entertainment colleagues. Facing declining revenue resulting from piracy, amateur digital competitors and a shrinking home entertainment market, the kings of porn (and yes, the industry is run mostly by men) face another threat to their business: the just-passed Los Angeles County measure requiring condom use in adult movies. “

After having read the XOJANE article by Laura or Aurora, the Duke University porn star, I had several friends contact me.

“We should just do porn! We’d be out of student debt in no time.”

Yes, and no. Making it as a porn star is becoming as difficult as making it as a musician or actress. If you’re searching for a ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme this probably isn’t for you. Stars like Asa Akira have made it to the top with the help of agents like Spiegler, who are constantly looking out for their best interest and cutting them the best deals. Being represented by Spiegler is no easy task – he represents only 25 girls out of the thousands of women in porn.

But if you’re as passionate about this as Laura, then maybe consider giving it a shot.

It is interesting to read Laura’s story while living in Los Angeles. The way she describes the reaction of her student body is borderline unbelievable. I wonder if this has anything to do with their extremely wealthy student body?

I’ve heard similar stories a handful of times : girls stripping, engaging in escorting or acting in the porn industry trying to pay off tuition and student loans. It may seem surprising, but it’s not that unusual. Most people ask to see photos of what the individual looks like and gasp about it for a second and then go on to chatting about other things. Why? We understand why they’re doing it. It’s a job and college is expensive. We’ll joke that we would do the same thing if we didn’t have the savings, help from our parents or financial aid – but in reality there’s some seriousness to what’s being said.

Tuition is barely affordable for those of us who grew up in the poorer parts of Los Angeles. We sympathize with the hustle. It’s tough trying to make ends meet as a student, while paying tuition, purchasing books, keeping up with classes, interning and trying to have a social life.

If porn is going to help you earn your education,  I doubt anyone who’s experienced poverty would judge you. Anyone who loves their education, and what their studying, understands the willingness to sacrifice. Enjoying being an actor in the porn industry would only be an extra.

I agree with Laura’s argument that we need to give sex workers respect. Porn is an industry that deserves respect because it is so important. People, from all over the world, watch porn. Researchers have been unable to do studies on the effects of porn on the brain because there is no control group.  These videos are affecting and influencing our society in ways that we cannot even understand. As one scientist described it : Like trying to ask a fish about water.

Which brings me to my final point:

I do not agree with the idea that the porn industry is empowering women.

Porn has done nothing to help our case. This is an industry that has made its  profits off of encouraging fantasies with young women who are barely of age. “Barely Legal” sound familiar? Story lines focusing on young women being taken advantage of by older men? What about the virgin-whore dichotomy that feminism fights so hard against? Porn uses the concept as the very storyline for many of their films. And although porn has never been regarded as an industry with ‘strong story lines’, if there is a storyline it paints the woman as an object, a sex toy. I’d like to think that women are more than just a collection of orifices.

Laura mentioned rough sex in her story. (I’m sure that definition will vary from person to person.) I don’t understand how spitting on someone, screaming at them, and pulling them by the hair to stand up further empowers women? Would this not be mimicking sexual abuse toward women for the pleasure of men? Adults have fetishes and sexual quirks they’ve discovered, and I would never shame anyone for doing that. If that type of sexual activity is what you find pleasurable, more power to you. But adult’s are not the only people watching these videos. Young boys  across the world are watching these porn videos and receiving false expectations. There is no disclaimer explaining that this porn is a fetish, or that this is mutually consensual. For all the porn available on the web, there is still no discussion of boundaries or rape. There is still no explanation that these female actors who are screaming and crying, have agreed to do this, and are not actually being raped. Would this be going overboard? Possibly, but let’s not forget the age of some of the viewers.

If we allow the internet to continue to falsely advertise to our youth that ‘This is what sex looks like’ without any education about rape, or any education about respecting boundaries, we are going to end up with future issues. It is fantastic that our society is heading toward more sexual liberalization and sexual acceptance, but we need to compensate for the years of misrepresentation porn has caused.

Porn is now more available than ever. You could watch videos at any given time throughout the day, as long as you have some internet access. This is not something any other generation has experienced. We need to properly equip ourselves for this much sex being thrown at us, and what better way than through the porn industry itself.

And if it isn’t the porn industry, than who?

I respect Laura’s decision and admire that she’s doing something she feels so passionately about while pursuing her education. That being said, I hope as a Women’s Studies major, she’ll be able to shed some knowledge on an industry that is predominantly run by men and change the industry to better improve the lives of women.