Watching the Porn Recovery UK twitter feed yesterday (26 October) we were struck by a tweet talking about the sad story of Amy Winehouse’s demise and how a coroner was expected to hear that her death was caused by alcohol withdrawal and not as a result of a drug overdose, as was initially reported. The interesting point for us at PRUK is the way this illuminates the difference between the therapy culture that has grown up around drug and alcohol misuse but not around the issues that people suffer with when they become porn dependent. Does it have something to do with the fact that porn does not kill its users physically – even though it certainly can emotionally?
We continued to think ‘But what about the people involved in making porn?’ In particular, what about the men and women essentially risking their lives each time they have sex for money on a film set? In reading Girlvert a porno memoir, Oriana Small’s frank and congruent account of her time working in the hardcore porn industry as Ashley Blue, there are very real reminders of the coercion that can and does take place on porn sets for performers. HIV, Hepatitis C and anal gangbangs aside (one of the most risky sexual ‘performances’), there are frequent infections brought about by working in the sex industry that don’t parallel with excessive consumption of the product. Indeed, watching porn is, ironically, safe sex for the user physically. When Marc, the porn addict in Turned On: Intimacy in a Pornized Society, is confronted by his therapist to think about the female performers of the movies he is watching, he is read a chilling passage about the suffering and humiliation of a porn star who has left the industry. Collecting himself he responds: ‘I’m humbled but I’m glad you read that to me.’ We are left wondering what it would be like if porn was not safe physical sex. Would therapists feel more able to work with the issue if they were seen as potentially saving physical rather than emotional lives?