I get naked for a living.... I get naked for a living. I wanted to say that twice to make sure that it registers and that its not an incidental footnote stuffed in a small corner in the bottom of a book or something that no one is ever going to see. While the conservative right would call what I do sinful and anti-pro-sex feminists look at me with pity thinking that I’m a poor misguided soul seeking approval under the yoke of patriarchal powers, I remain fine with what I do and seek to be good at my job just in the same way any other person wishes to be good at their occupation. I’m self employed, I make my own hours, I earn my own money, I’m my own producer, and I am my own brand. If I were in another industry I’d be considered successful, but that’s not how society looks at what I do or people like me. “What we have here is a failure to communicate....” Ok I’m not good at impressions, but the truth is there is a lot of judgement, double standards and one sided discussion on the issue of sex and the female body. Griffith said that when a woman is depicted in a sexualized way, with no depth to her appearance with the intent of selling beer, cars, food or when overtly sexual or nude photos, like the Kim Kardashian nude tweets are posted online or printed in magazines, we call it objectification. Objectification, of course, has a negative connotation. I like to consider most objectification as self-objectification, considering that the women behind the image consensually, or even passionately wanted to be captured in that image. Objectification is a term with negative connotations.
That seems strange but easy to follow but it gets way more complicated. A model is still considered a legitimate perspective depending on who they are working for or what they are selling. A person selling sexuality, fantasy or themselves, however, is void of morality. Being a porn start is considered “incredibly shameful for a young woman” (Griffith, 2016). While female porn stars should be looked upon with shame, when the young boy is caught looking at porn on the computer or with his dad’s Playboy, we’ll probably hear “Well, boys will be boys...” Go back to the equation, boys looking at porn is OK within reason because it’s a natural part of sexual exploration. Girls providing porn, however, are sluts. So me, the self employed sex industry worker, is a slut that should be ashamed of myself. Rather than being some textbook equation that a couple guys in suits drew up in congress or the back room of a church, this is actually something that’s easiest to see as an unspoken undercurrent and cultural attitude present in our society. I have a simple story to show how it looks in practice.
Like many young people, I never wanted to disappoint my parents, who does? So you can understand my apprehension about telling my mother that I worked in the sex industry in a society where sex industry workers are marginalized. It’s not exactly the thing you bring up at the PTA meeting. “Well my oldest daughter you see is a sex worker.....” My Mom has a rudimentary understanding of what I do but like most people who go to work everyday, we don’t walk our parents through how our days look. “I get up, I brush my teeth, I masturbate, and go to work, at 10 am I have a break, and at noon we have a meeting, then I do content editing blah blah blah,” no one really has conversations like this so it shouldn’t be a surprise my Mom doesn’t know exactly how my day looks. She’s a woman, she’s seen my websites and she’s seen prints of my nude self portraits. She’s even been to a burlesque show where I stripped fully naked. My mom, therefore, is as supportive as I could ever want her to be, however, still I always feared my Mom would hear about or see something about me doing “porn” on the internet and this could be the one thing she may not understand or could not be able to handle.
So when the phone rings and it’s my mom, I naturally get nervous sometimes and recently, my worst fears were realized. Chatting with her college student neighbors, who are younger than myself, the young men informed my mom that they were on a website and they saw my porn online. Thankfully, my mother wasn’t bothered by this but I was. In fact, the implications of culture and society that are revealed from this little act say multitudes about double standards and gender norms in our society. Let’s frame all the details from this particular story:
(1). male college students told my mom they were watching porn
(2). male college students told my mother they were watching her daughter do porn
This solicits a few logical questions, first, what was the intent of them telling her this. Were they attempting to warn her so she could save me, were they attempting to shame our family or were they just having casual conversation. Let’s rule out option three because we don’t have casual conversations about watching pornography, having sex and/or masturbating, particularly with someone’s mom. So, that means these boys, who were themselves watching porn and perhaps viewing intellectual properly illegally, either wanted to shame me to my mom or warn my mom so she could save me.
In their own culturally inundated and gender role inundated psyche, they saw nothing strange about telling my mom they were viewing pornographic images, but they felt it important enough to have an awkward conversation with her so they can either “help the poor porn star” or get on their high horse and “shame the porn stars family.” In either way, it didn’t work, but let’s be honest, my Mom probably is not the parental norm in such a situation. Had I been born in a different home this could have met losing my place to live, getting disowned by the family or under Sharif law this would be grounds for death. We have to identify these antiquated double standards and ask ourselves as a society what is the motivation other than control and subjugation behind these cultural artifacts.
"If men can watch porn without judgment, then women have the right to make sex their career." - My mom.