"Porn isn't bad -- how people will treat you for the rest of your life is": Ex-adult actress urges women to stay away from the sex industry

Former porn star Bree Olson calls out society's gender-based double standard for women who own their sexuality

Published June 19, 2015 2:34PM (EDT)

 Bree Olson  (flipchip/LasVegasVegas via Wikimedia Commons)
Bree Olson (flipchip/LasVegasVegas via Wikimedia Commons)

Former adult actress Bree Olson hasn't changed her mind about porn. Perhaps she's changed her mind about doing it herself -- that much is obvious -- but she still thinks the sex industry is fine. Sort of.

In a passionate open letter published on Twitter this week, Olson urged young women (in no uncertain terms) to avoid the porn industry -- not because of problems she encountered inside the adult film world, but because of the prejudice she faced in society. According to Olson, the sexist double standard for women who embrace their own sexuality leaves them vulnerable to discrimination, which she believes would best be avoided by staying away from sex work altogether. She writes:

Olson is right about a lot of things here: Porn stars and other sex workers do face immense stigma, for example, and are often unable to find jobs outside the industry regardless of their current involvement in "adult entertainment." And, as if limitations on finding "professional" work weren't bad enough, sex workers can also be fired from their jobs without recourse or legal protection, leaving them especially vulnerable to unemployment and a basic lack of opportunity. The discrimination Olson describes is real and pervasive and dangerous, and the ex-performer does make a compelling case for avoiding it.

That being said, avoidance has never been the key to eliminating any ubiquitous social problem. And there are many in the sex industry who know this -- which is what Olson misses with her letter. Workers' rights activists have formed a vocal community within the industry to fight for legal protections as well as, you know, basic recognition of their humanity. To say that porn stars are left "without the support of activists for [their] human rights" is to ignore the growing number of sex workers advocating for themselves and for one another. In a perfect world, they wouldn't have to fight so hard.

By Jenny Kutner

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