stoya and james
Stoya and James Deen at the premiere of 'The Canyons.'

World

11.30.2015

The James Deen Accusations Point To A Big Problem In Porn

You can never trust a “nice guy,” especially the kind that markets himself that way. At least, that’s what we’ve been thinking recently. Over the weekend, James Deen, the proverbial male feminist of porn, has been accused — by three different sources — of rape or sexual assault. The first to accuse Deen of rape was fellow porn megastar and ex-girlfriend Stoya. She took to Twitter on Saturday to air her grievance about Deen being heralded as a “feminist,” when his actions indicate nothing of the sort.

After Stoya, two other actresses, Tori Lux and Ashley Fires, have come forward with stories that tarnish Deen’s well-manicured male feminist persona. Both allege that Deen confronted them in major porn studios and tried to force them to engage in sexual activities with him, despite saying “no” and protesting aggressively multiple times.

Like many porn stars, both male and female, Deen often takes part in scenes that convey rough sex. The Daily Beast writes that Deen “films approximately one bondage, S&M, or mock rape scene for every three regular ones.”

In the past, Deen has touted his ability to separate the violent sex of his work with the violent sex of his personal life. “I don’t know how to say it without being a hideous prick, but I’m pretty good at having rough sex,” Deen said in an interview with the Observer. “It got to the point where a lot of girls who aren’t into that type of sex were afraid to work with me because they thought I was going to slap them in the face or something. But I only do that if the girl is into it. There’s no reason to choke somebody if they don’t like getting choked. Then you’re basically being an asshole.”

james deen
Porn star James Deen.

We live in a society where the vast majority of straight porn features a man behaving aggressively towards a woman. According to content analysis of over 300 top-rated porn scenes, 88.2% featured “physical aggression, principally spanking, gagging, and slapping,” and 48.7% of the analyzed scenes contained “verbal aggression, primarily name-calling.” The aggressors were overwhelmingly male while the targets of aggression were female — the targets also usually “showed pleasure or responded neutrally to the aggression.”

Of course, not everyone who engages in hardcore sex — in porn or otherwise — is doing something wrong. Aggressive sex doesn’t mean sexist sex, unwanted sex, or sexual assault. Aggressive sex can, of course, be something that two consenting adults agree to. But should it be something hardwired into our view of normal sex from the age of 11 — the age when the average American child first consumes porn — onwards? Probably not. And what effect does beating up women while holding an erection have on male porn performers?

war machine
MMA fighter War Machine.

Deen isn’t the first male performer to apparently have a hard time keeping a line between the rape fantasy he plays out on camera and the sex he has for pleasure. Jonathan Koopenhaver, an MMA fighter and porn performer known as War Machine, is about to face trial for sexual assault and attempted murder for his ex, porn star Christy Mack. The attorney’s defense? War Machine beat her — almost to death — because she’d shown a “desire, the preference, to acceptability towards a particular form of sex activities outside the norm” in the porn work she’d done.

Sex including some kind of aggression isn’t always bad. But violence against women during sex has become normalized. Pair this with the apparent trend of men not understanding that porn performers can say “no” during non-work sex, and you have a disturbing picture of the sexuality of our culture. There’s nothing wrong with porn, but perhaps the way we’re carrying it out — and how it effects our inevitably society — is something everyone should be looking at more closely. 

Photos via ESPN and James Deen. 

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