Is porn just a business like every other business? Salon readers weigh in.

By Salon Staff
Published March 15, 2005 9:00PM (EST)

[Read "Adventures in the Skin Trade," by Priya Jain.]

Thank you for this thoughtful review! For me, a political activist, feminist and sex worker, I have often struggled with my own opinions on pornography. I myself have not felt abused by the sex industry (although I have felt very used and degraded by the customer service industry as a whole), but I have struggled to reconcile this with what I have been told about pornography.

In defense of Andrea Dworkin I would insist that her greatest work has been in standing up for the rights of women, demanding an end to the constant violence perpetrated against us to this day. I don't think we are, as the writer suggests, past that moment or past the appreciation of her writing.

-- Anonymous

Having read your review of "The Other Hollywood," one question pops in my mind: How much attention does the author devote to the phenomenon of women increasingly producing pornography? Since the 1980s more successful female performers such as Ginger Lynn, Nina Hartley, Tianna, "Buttwoman" and others have moved into the director's and even producer's seat, shaping the way pornography is produced. This underscores the fact that pornography, more than any other industry, relies on women to make it work and that it takes their cooperation and input to keep it going. While I realize that some forms of pornography are degrading to women, the increasing industry leadership by women should dispel any notion that things haven't changed much since "Deep Throat."

-- Chris Dunlea

Please, don't make such a big deal about the people that act in porno movies. It is not. As in any other area of life, there is a large majority of people that find the job OK, a few that really enjoy it, and yet another few that are disgruntled. Taking the disgruntled and extrapolating their experiences and attitudes to the whole industry is like interviewing the giraffes at the zoo and then inferring that all the animals at the zoo are Lilliputian. If you think that porno denigrates anybody, it denigrates the people that consider porno actors to have "fallen" into it.

-- Jorge S.

I'm shocked! Shocked! I say, that the porn industry works like every other industry on the planet.

Get a grip. Every industry exploits its workers to some degree. Every industry has those on the top and those on the bottom.

The only surprise is that people think this is news.

-- Mark

Priya Jain says, "There are some men and women in porn who are healthy and fulfilled, but there are also lots of opportunistic, sleazy men and vulnerable, gullible women."

And that would make it different from the mainstream Hollywood industry exactly how?

-- Patrick McDevitt

Sometimes I'm not sure what to think of porn. I live in the porn production capital, the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. I don't believe it's the government's job to treat adult consumers like children. However, what influences porn has on the young and how they treat each other has horrific implications.

There is a continuing criminal case in Orange County concerning three young men who raped a girl as she lay unconscious on a pool table and violated her with objects, all on video. At one time, the girl -- then age 16, casually mentioned that she would like to make a porn film.

The defense used this remark to full effect. Although this girl never said she'd have sex with all three boys at once, and was unconscious, the defense insisted she was pretending to be so and consented to the video.

The jury was hung.

A violent felony was committed, with hard evidence to prove it, and yet the ambivalence about porn and what was witnessed compromised justice for an underage girl. If I could be assured that everyone involved in porn was a consenting adult that enjoyed it and wasn't initiated into it out of desperation, and that young people didn't violate each other because of it, I'd have no problem with it at all.

-- Regan DuCasse

Why is it that the issue of pornography is always painted as an issue of freedom of speech or a question if the women involved in the production are being debased? The true issue is that pornography in its depiction of women harms all women and men as well in setting expectations that are unrealistic and lack individuality.

If sex is a normal curve (and I believe it is), there are all kinds of different passions that can be expressed between two people. Yet with pornography sex is often reduced to formulas that are often played out by people who lack any human imagination.

Closing in on 60, I have seen the effect of this on the relationships I have had.

Porn only shows a small slice of what can be between a man and a woman. But it raises expectations in males and suggests to women who have different preferences than those portrayed that they are somehow less than ... or somehow frigid.

It also contributes to female feelings of inadequacy over body-image issues.

This goes far beyond any woman's freedom to create or be a part of the industry.

-- Marie Foster

Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------