Why did we ignore porn’s #MeToo?

The industry’s biggest stars have been speaking out for years. But no one is listening and today Cosmo UK posted a story revisiting the issue, most specifically the multiple allegations against James Deen including those from him then-fiance Stoya.

The big point the story drives home is that “Working in the adult industry, reporting sexual assault is 100 times more difficult”

Here is the story ….

Do you want to sniff my testicles?” There was a satisfied look on his face as he said it. He ignored the woman when she raised her head, looked him straight in his eyes and replied “no”. He wasn’t taking that for an answer. So he asked again. The reply was the same. “No.”

So he took matters into his own hands, reaching for a fistful of her hair and pushing her backwards onto the mattress behind her. Then he began to pound his crotch repeatedly in her face. Again.

And again. And again.

Barely a metre away a crowd of people had gathered. No one said a thing.

Until recently, stories like this weren’t spoken about. Not publicly anyway. They were uttered in whispers, passed from woman to woman, warnings not to “deal” with certain people, to watch out for themselves.

Then, one woman decided to speak out; her decision caused a snowball effect – others began to tell their stories, and name names. Not just this man, but others. Lots of others.

For the first time, people were listening. People cared.

You think you know this story. But you don’t. The woman who claims this happened to her is an adult performer who has starred in over 60 pornographic films. In the majority of films, what happens to her on set is consensual; a job. But in this case, she says what happened wasn’t. As for him? We don’t know. Those watching may have thought it was part of the scene. He might have thought it was, too. It’s what makes something that should be simple a lot more complicated.

James Deen is not your average porn star. He has dark ruffled hair, artfully placed stubble and bright blue eyes. Squint and he could be Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgely, or Zayn Malik, a clean-cut TV or pop star whose poster young girls might hang on their walls. In 2012, his fame broke through porn circles and into the mainstream: there were gushing profiles written about him in both GQ and Esquire. He once starred in a (non-pornographic) movie, The Canyons, with Lindsay Lohan, and his relationships with fellow adult performers Stoya and Joanna Angel were tabloid fodder. He used to tour up and down America speaking at high schools and colleges on matters of sex education and consent. His intelligence and seemingly feminist principles earned him the nickname “the Ryan Gosling of porn”.

And then, in late November 2015, his ex-partner Stoya took to Twitter. In two public messages she wrote, “James Deen held me down and f*cked me while I said no, stop, used my safeword. I just can’t nod and smile when people bring him up any more.”

He responded with his own tweet, “I want to assure my friends, fans and colleagues that these allegations are both false and defamatory. I respect women and I know and respect limits both professionally and privately.”

Yet it set off a domino effect. One by one, more women came forward, each with their own claims regarding Deen’s behavior – on and offset. Amber Rayne – who had considered herself a friend of Deen’s before her death from an accidental overdose in 2016 – told of a point early on in his career, where he carried on with a scene so violently, despite her bleeding, that she eventually needed stitches. Joanna Angel, also a former partner of the star, told of multiple occasions of sexual violence while they were together. Tori Lux spoke about how he “pounded his crotch in her face” on set, an incident that left her “messed up, for a long time”. Ashley Fires recounted a time when, on set, Deen “almost raped her.” In total, 10 women came forward. He was never charged. When we contacted him for this feature we received no reply.

Later, in an interview with The Daily Beast, he went through each allegation one by one, offering his own explanations. Most he flat-out denied, or says were grossly distorted stories of what actually did happen. “When you take porn activity into a polite society it sounds really twisted,” he said, adding that, “All the accusations are from either ex-girlfriends or events that happened on set.” His break up with Stoya was “not a clean break up”. When asked why he believes allegations have surfaced, he said he knows a number of former adult performers who, once out of the industry, “change their desires and perceptions about things that have happened in the past”.

Even before Deen was in the industry, there have long been rumours of sexual foul play in the world of adult film – both male (largely on gay adult productions) and female stars subjected to scenes they did not want, or agree, to take part in. They have largely remained silent – with performers telling me that there’s a fear of bullying, work being withdrawn in reprisal and a perceived prejudice of authorities keeping them silent. Some didn’t want outsiders to take these incidents as a black mark against the entire industry – feeling they already faced enough judgment.

But Stoya’s tweet encouraged others to come forward with claims – not just against Deen, but others within the industry. They wanted the outside world to listen, but they also wanted people to understand that they deserved the right to a safe working environment.


553950cookie-checkWhy did we ignore porn’s #MeToo?

Why did we ignore porn’s #MeToo?

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2 Responses

  1. This was polarizing. Dana Dearmond and Casey Calvert didn’t agree with Stoya and called her out on it. I’m really not sure what to believe. Weren’t they dating at the time too?

  2. Stoya claims the abuse happened while she was dating James Deen. I get Casey sticking up for her friend (I would probably have done the same at the beginning) but when the evidence mounted that James was a rapist and assaulter I hope she was convinced otherwise. She did only defend him until the release of evidence went so far, she didn’t retract her defense but she didn’t vehemently defend him like she did at the beginning of this sorry situation. I don’t really know Casey but what I have seen about her makes respect her, she has gone far in this industry and seems to be an honest and forthright person, I think she would be a good friend to someone and I wish her well. I cant say much about Dana except that her personality is extremely caustic, I remember that on ADT she went off on people for every little thing that irked her. I actually feel sort of sorry for Dana, she isn’t attractive and she is in an industry where attractiveness is required to get anywhere. If she had entered the industry in 2015 instead of 2000 or so she probably wouldn’t have got a whole lot of work.

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