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Porn stars: The latest pseudo-science

Posted By Phil Elmore On 11/28/2012 @ 8:00 pm In Commentary,Opinion | No Comments

The latest in a series of poorly structured “studies,” each of which is used to draw conclusions not supported by the statistical methodology employed, contends that porn stars have higher self-esteem than you squares. That’s right: Women who allow an army of strangers to debase and abuse them during acts of casual sex, amidst terrifying outbreaks of incurable and sometimes fatal diseases, supposedly have a higher opinion of themselves than women who … don’t.

As quickly as this news was reported, it became part of our popular culture mythos – a factoid to be repeated ad nauseam regardless of its truth or falsehood. It now joins a sea of other, similarly flawed and agenda-driven “studies” whose purpose is to “prove,” by adopting a flimsy veneer of pseudo-science, whatever the researcher’s opinions might have been. Just like studies supposedly proving that liberals are smarter than conservatives or that women are smarter than men (falsehoods leftist ideologues are desperate to “prove” in order to marginalize their enemies), this news that porn stars feel awesome about themselves is utter garbage. It is hopelessly implausible.

It is not true.

Even the NBC article announcing the study can’t hide data directly contradicting the bizarre conclusion that porn stars have higher self-esteem than those who do not share their lifestyles. The very same study claims that the porn stars polled were more promiscuous (in their personal lives, not their work lives), more worried about sexually transmitted diseases, and much more likely to have alcohol and drug abuse problems. This is not the picture painted by those analyzing this new data (derived from a statistical sample of only 177 “actresses” and a matched control group). These are not traits exhibited by people who value themselves highly and enjoy their lives more.

Simply to be a porn star, in fact, requires a death wish on the part of the participant. Only weeks ago, a study of 168 porn performers in Los Angeles found higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases than are found in legal brothel workers in Nevada. That’s right: Men and women who work in an industry whose performers are regularly tested for STDs are infecting each other faster than are working prostitutes and their customers

“Sexually transmitted infection rates among legal prostitutes are negligible,” says the L.A. Times, analyzing the report, “because brothel workers in Nevada are required by state law to use condoms and are tested weekly for disease. Since those rules went into effect in Nevada, there have been no cases of HIV infection, and their infection rates were negligible. … In contrast, the report said, there have been a number of HIV infections among porn stars in Los Angeles County since the 1990s. The report said that there was ‘very low’ consistent condom use among the study participants, either on the set or in their personal lives.”

The porn industry has long fought against mandated condom use because, probably quite correctly, customers are less excited by pornography incorporating prophylactics. Ron Jeremy, a portly male porn performer who has for years tried to break into legitimate film (he appears in the movie “The Boondock Saints” and has made cameos on Conan O’Brien’s show), condemned such regulations in the New York Daily News. “[V]iewers don’t want to see it.” Jeremy said in January, 2012. “It ruins the fantasy. … This will force production to leave Los Angeles, and that’s really what the supporters want.”

Jeremy believes the regular testing in which porn stars engage is sufficient to prevent the transmission of disease. If porn stars in L.A. are experiencing more infections than prostitutes in Nevada, this can’t be true. The dirty little secret, as exposed in Ron Jeremy’s own documentary biopic, is that even with testing, performers are playing Russian roulette with their sexual health. In “Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy” (released in 2001), viewers follow Jeremy’s attempts to break into mainstream acting. They also get to see him wracked with anxiety as he awaits his regular STD test results.

Have you ever heard of gonorrhea of the throat? Did you know you can also contract chlamydia of the throat … or the eye? What about herpes in your eye or your nose? These are among the fascinating and terrifying diseases porn stars get and pass to each other, diseases that “normal” people have probably never imagined. Derrick Burts, who tested positive for HIV in 2010, blames gonorrhea of the throat for his HIV infection. Burts is a “crossover” actor, a porn star who has filmed with both male and female partners. He believes he contracted HIV during “gay” oral sex on camera after his immune system was “weakened” by throat gonorrhea – which was, in turn, contracted from a female performer in California.

Then there is actress Traci Lords, who successfully left pornography after spending most of her career filming illegally (she was underage). Lords says she went through years of therapy after leaving the industry. She claims she performed as a means of getting attention and battling “self-loathing.” She was, in fact, at the center of quite the scandal when truth of her age first came out – for her partners were, arguably, committing statutory rape. Only one of over a hundred adult movies in which she starred is legally available in the United States. But she must have felt great about herself at the time … right?

The porn industry is big business, but for those attempting to make money within it, that business is a horror. Rampant disease, degradation and the misuse of the majority of its performers are the norm. There are relatively few individuals who achieve near-household fame and fortune, leaving the industry when they are too old to perform (or becoming producers, directors and owners). The rest of porn’s performers are simply used up. Theirs is not an experience that builds “self-esteem.” Theirs is not an existence characterized by high self-worth. Theirs is not a life that affords healthy relationships.

Any “study” claiming otherwise is a lie.


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