Why Yes, I Am A Capitalist

I need to say something. Something that’s pretty obvious really: I’m a capitalist. I make porn to make money. It’s how I earn my living.

And it seems that some would argue that because I’m trying to make a profit from porn, this immediately means that anything I have to say on the topic of censorship or feminist porn is therefore tainted or hasn’t any weight. I got this aggravation from a certain angsty and light-on-for-facts female blogger last year and I’m feeling it again in the wake of the Our Porn, Ourselves conversation.

Audacia Ray, who I very much admire and respect, wrote this in her piece about the current stoush:


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…there are plenty of people involved in the mainstream hetero porn world who are proponents of free speech being generously applied to the adult industry (dicey legal construction of “obscenity” be damned!), but their commitment to free speech is more about protecting their business interests than being renegade First Amendment advocates. Violet is very much not one of the motivated-by-porn-profit people, her interest in porn is actually about having an interest in the sexualities of women.

Audacia’s dichotomy makes me rather uncomfortable. It suggests that any effort to protect free speech should be somehow pure and untainted by the profit motivation. It’s a troubling assertion because it seems to suggest that those of us making a living from porn and protesting censorship (as I do regularly) are only motivated by a desire to protect an income stream. That’s a little too black-and-white for my liking.

Yes, I hate the idea of censorship because it means I wouldn’t be able to earn a living making porn. But that’s not the only reason, nor is it the biggest motivation. I hate it when other people tell me what I can and cannot read, see, hear, film or say. It offends me as a human being. Running a commercial adult business does not change that motivation. And I don’t doubt that John Stagliano, who is facing obscenity prosecutions, feels the same way.

The same applies with regards to the discussion of adult material, what it means and whether it may be a problem in our society. I’m a webmistress who is part of the adult industry but that doesn’t mean I don’t strongly believe in the ideals of feminist porn or automatically reject any valid criticism of porn. Yes, I have commercial issues to consider but it doesn’t negate my ideals or determination to make porn better. I’m not a saint, but then, is anybody?

Gail Dines, the organiser of the Stop Porn Culture conference, has dismissed me, Violet Blue and any other women who enjoy porn thusly:
“Women defending porn are likely deluded by the near trillion dollar industry.”

Ah, false consciousness is fun, isn’t it? You can dismiss almost anything by patting the other person on the head and telling them they “just don’t understand.”

I’m not deluded. I’m also not engaged in a purely cynical exercise just to make a buck in this alleged “trillion dollar industry”. If I were, I would have been selling Jenna Jameson products from the moment I started, not making porn for women like myself.

And I seriously doubt that all the women who are coming forward to defend the idea of freedom of speech and sexual expression aren’t just dupes of the evil porn industry. No doubt most of them have spent time thinking about porn and also struggling with the idea that women aren’t supposed to like it, on top of fact that so much of it is just plain bad. A woman who is brave enough to say she likes porn has given the issue some serious thought.

Unlike Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan who happily wrote an entire column supporting the anti-porn conference without bothering to do a skerrick of research.

In any case, my point is this: Yes, I’m a capitalist but I also care deeply about feminism and freedom of speech. And I think that one should not preclude the other.

8 Replies to “Why Yes, I Am A Capitalist”

  1. Perceived conflicted interests can be the hardest of accusations to overcome. So people require us to be one thing or another – a callous capitalist (which they can understand, even if they don’t like it), or a libertarian (which they can understand, even if they don’t agree). But you can’t be someone who cares about an issue and makes money from it.

    As an escort I have to tackle the same issue. The escort industry serving women is possibly even less accepted than the porn industry serving women.

    Yes, I make money from the services that I provide, but at the same time, (like you Ms Naughty), I really want to give my customers something of value that makes them happy and to lets them feel good about themselves. That’s partly why I work for myself, rather than an agency. I couldn’t do what I do through an agency.

    Of course the reply is often “you just say that to make women think that you care so that you get more work”. Well, yes and no. I do care. And I do want more women to feel that it’s ok to date a male escort so that I can continue to earn a living.

    It is truly ironic that I grew up being told “turn what you love doing into your job”. Well, I love cooking good food and entertaining and making love to women, and now I earn a living from it. But society devalues, or denies my enjoyment and commitment to making women happy, just because there is money involved.

    We (escorts, makers of porn for women etc) don’t have a choice but to be capitalist. That’s the way the world works. But we can choose to care about what we do and do it in an ethical manner that benefits our customers as much as it does us.

    1. Thanks for your well-reasoned reply John. A while ago I interviewed another male escort and he said pretty much the same thing. I don’t think you could successfully be a male escort unless you genuinely enjoyed giving women pleasure.

  2. Thanks for this post – it’s an issue I often ponder and which is often a way for academics to dismiss my views on porn.

    P.S. I thought Seymour Butts’ charges were dropped back in 2002 – do you mean John Stagliano perhaps (aka. Buttman)?

    1. Woops, you’re right of course GGG. Post has been edited – thanks for picking that up.

      I guess the whole thing is part of the human urge to create simple dichotomies. You’re either fur us or aggin us. As usual, nothing is ever that simple.

  3. Of course you are a capitalist….So am I, a boy has got to eat.

    Adult web masters have the ability to be provocative without crossing the lines (….such as promoting underage exploitation and employing a degrading attitude towards women in general)

    Ms. Egan is a local (Boston) columnist/TV personality who is known to be a bandwagon jumper and not a person who give some thought to her opinions.

  4. I meant my comment about free speech to be aimed in a pointed way at a particular subset of Chatsworth-based pornographers, sorry if it didn’t come off that way. You have a solid and comprehensive critique of censorship, while there are others who just get angry when it affects them – that’s the position I was trying to critique.

    I think that the notion of a pure free speech, unencumbered by the desire to make bank, is unrealistic at best. I think that an ethical approach to producing and consuming porn includes good business practices – not just ones that are good for the performers, but ones that make it possible for people like you to make a good living doing this work.

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