Sexual Violence Behind the Scenes: Porn Star Accused of Rape

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The porn industry just lost another golden boy.

James Deen, a porn actor with “boy next door” charm, has long been a rising star in the porn community. In 2009, Adult Video News named him “Male Performer of the Year.” Esquire has labeled him the “Ryan Gosling of porn,” and Elle praised his support for female sexuality. Even Buzzfeed profiled Deen, in 2014, noting that he has appeared in over 4,000 porn scenes to date.

Deen categorizes himself as a success story. He told Good Magazine “I was in kindergarten or something and I saw porn for the first time, and I said: This is what I want to do. I want to grow up and be in porn.”

From the porn sites to the mainstream press, Deen has been placed on a pedestal as a shining example of success and sexual prowess to which others should aspire.

Until now.

Late November, Deen’s former girlfriend, and occasional co-star, Stoya, set the porn industry back on its heels when she publicly claimed that Deen raped her.

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Stoya stated that Deen raped her despite her repeated cries of “no” and use of their safe word. Shortly after Deen denied this accusation, two other women who work in the porn industry – Tori Lux and Ashley Fires – also claimed that Deen had assaulted them in the past.

Suddenly, Deen isn’t being lauded as a hero anymore…but not because the porn community is actually serious about opposing sexual violence.

Rape is a common theme in pornography. In fact, Deen himself has regularly appeared in the rape fantasy genre. According to the Daily Beast, Deen films “approximately one bondage, S&M, or mock rape scene for every three regular ones.”

Deen even has a history of joking about rape on social media:

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To date, Deen has not been convicted of rape or sexual assault, and merely stands accused. Yet concerns about the link between pornography, permission giving beliefs, and rape remain.

Studies have shown that adult exposure to pornography is associated with believing a rape victim enjoys rape. Porn use is also linked to increased acceptance of sexual violence against women, and to requiring more sexually violent fantasies to get aroused.

In Pornography and Violence: A New Look at Research, Mary Anne Layden, Ph.D., wrote:

Rape pornography teaches men that when a woman says no, the man does not need to stop. So a man may learn that there is no need to pay attention to a woman who is resisting, crying, screaming, struggling, or saying no, because ultimately she wants it and will enjoy it. He can conclude that her resistance is a sham and is part of a sex dance that leads to orgasm. He may assume that even her resistance is sexy and sexually arousing because it is part of the sexual template.

In other words, pornography makes violence sexy.

According to a study by Millburm, Mather and Conrad, in 2000 even “non-violent” porn objectifies and degrades women in a way that leads to a male user’s increased likelihood of believing victims of rape “got what they wanted.”

The recent scandal surrounding Deen ought to serve as a wake up call to the reporters who are working so hard to praise porn in efforts to be “hip” or “edgy.” Pornography is by nature an exploitive and harmful industry that is linked to increases in sexual violence, and it must be publicly regarded as such.

No one deserves to be exploited or abused. And no industry that glamorizes, or contributes to, exploitation should be tolerated.


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NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.

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The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.

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