+

They're naive and inexperienced. That's why porn producers want them.

When it comes to entertainment, it's not so surprising to learn that there's often a dark side to the glitz and glamor. But a new documentary from Netflix and Rashida Jones sheds light on the booming amateur porn industry and the young girls who have no clue what they're in for.

Whoa, let's have a pre-porn talk: The trailer below doesn't contain explicit content, but it still might be not safe for work. And while I'm going to talk about the porn industry, this is a no-shame zone. Consenting adults have every right to engage in and enjoy sex activities, including porn — when all involved are definitely both consenting and adult.

"Hot Girls Wanted" is a new documentary, but sadly these industry stories aren't new.

While "Hot Girls Wanted" sheds light on exploitation and coercion in the amateur porn industry, the practice of luring unsuspecting women into adult film isn't a new story.


Linda "Lovelace" Boreman became porn-star royalty after starring in the 1972 hardcore "Deep Throat." But what audiences didn't know is that she had been coerced into the film by her abusive husband.

Image via " The Real Linda Lovelace."

In fact, many of the scenes in "Deep Throat" that audiences were enjoying weren't pretend; they were acts of extreme sexual violence. Sadly, Boreman isn't the only one who's experienced these horrors on camera. The Pink Cross Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports those who want to transition out of the sex industry, features too many stories from former adult actresses who experienced manipulation and sexual abuse on camera.

"I wasn't a woman in any of these directors eyes, I was nothing to them. The male talent at times were nice, but sometimes, they were horrible. I've had men choke me, slap me, thrust me so hard until I couldn't walk and this would happen even after I would tell them to stop. They have no respect for women." — Erin Moore via Pink Cross Foundation's Porn Star Confessions


Image via Kino 2.

But these film-star horror stories aren't even the worst of it. When you hear from the men working behind the lens, it becomes all too clear how the porn industry views its talent.

"Together we evolved toward rougher stuff. He started to spit on girls. A strong male-dominant thing, with women being pushed to their limit. It looks like violence but it's not. I mean, pleasure and pain are the same thing, right?" — Pornographer John Stagliano via Martin Amis, The Guardian

Porn needs to change. Not just for the performers, but for the audience too.

These stomach-churning accounts from adult-film actors and producers signal that a change is necessary, but there are harmful consequences for audiences too. A 2014 Canadian study reported that 40% of boys between 4th and 11th grades admitted to watching porn. For many young people, pornography is their first introduction to sex. The normalization of sexual violence combined with unrealistic body images in these films can lead to some pretty unhealthy ideas about consent and body image.

So what's the solution? How do we make pornography better for actors and the people who consume it?

Independent erotic filmmaker Erika Lust suggested in a 2014 TEDx Talk that we don't need to get rid of porn all together but that what the porn industry needs is more women.

Image via TEDxVienna/TEDx Talks.

In 2004, Lust produced her first film, "The Good Girl," after finding herself frustrated and often repulsed by the images she was seeing repeated throughout pornography. So instead, she decided to take a more feminist approach to erotica, featuring men and women.

When she made the film free to download online, something incredible happened. "The Good Girl" went viral, with millions of downloads in a few short days. Turns out, Lust wasn't the only one looking for adult entertainment that managed to titillate and respect its performers at the same time.

Today, Erika Lust Films has produced numerous films and books that reframe what porn is and can be under a feminist lens.

Regardless what you think about pornography, it's clear that too many women have been and are being exploited by the adult entertainment industry. That doesn't mean all porn is awful or that every adult actress is being abused or manipulated. But from where I stand, even one girl is too many. But through education and filmmakers like Erika Lust, perhaps it's possible to make the adult industry a safer space for those who want to consume it and participate in it.

If you're one of the millions of people who enjoy adult content and want to be part of the solution, check out "5 ways to support ethical porn" to make sure you're supporting the best of the best.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


It's hard to truly describe the amazing bond between dads and their daughters.

Being a dad is an amazing job no matter the gender of the tiny humans we're raising. But there's something unique about the bond between fathers and daughters.

Most dads know what it's like to struggle with braiding hair, but we also know that bonding time provides immense value to our daughters. In fact, studies have shown that women with actively involved fathers are more confident and more successful in school and business.

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

This blind chef wore a body cam to show how she prepares dazzling dishes.

How do blind people cook? This "Masterchef" winner leans into her senses.

Image pulled from YouTube video.

Christine Ha competes on "Masterchef."

This article originally appeared on 05.26.17


There is one question chef Christine Ha fields more than any other.

But it's got nothing to do with being a "Masterchef" champion, New York Times bestselling author, and acclaimed TV host and cooking instructor.

The question: "How do you cook while blind?"

Keep ReadingShow less
This story first appeared on the author's Medium and is reprinted here with permission.

Because you're a girl.

This article originally appeared on 04.14.17


I was promoted a few weeks ago, which was great. I got a lot of nice notes from friends, family, customers, partners, and random strangers, which was exciting.

But it wasn't long until a note came in saying, “Everyone knows you got the position because you're a girl." In spite of having a great week at a great company with great people whom I love, that still stung, because it's not the first time I've heard it.

Keep ReadingShow less

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.

This article originally appeared on 04.22.15


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 01.27.20


From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, the largest complex of Nazi concentration camps. More than four out of five of those people—at least 1.1 million people—were murdered there.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the final prisoners from these camps—7,000 people, most of whom were sick or dying. Those of us with a decent public education are familiar with at least a few names of Nazi extermination facilities—Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen—but these are merely a few of the thousands (yes, thousands) of concentration camps, sub camps, and ghettos spread across Europe where Jews and other targets of Hitler's regime were persecuted, tortured, and killed by the millions.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

What I realized about feminism after my male friend was disgusted by tampons at a party.

"After all these years, my friend has probably forgotten, but I never have."

Photo by Josefin on Unsplash

It’s okay men. You don’t have to be afraid.

This article originally appeared on 08.12.16


Years ago, a friend went to a party, and something bothered him enough to rant to me about it later.

And it bothered me that he was so incensed about it, but I couldn't put my finger on why. It seemed so petty for him to be upset, and even more so for me to be annoyed with him.

Recently, something reminded me of that scenario, and it made more sense. I'll explain.

Keep ReadingShow less