I am not an anti-porn feminist. I am sex-positive, extremely outspoken, and enjoy tackling issues of gender & sexuality on the web and in the classroom. I’d like to have an honest conversation about an interview that I saw with Montana Fishburne (Lawrence Fishburne’s daughter) and Brian Pumper announcing her new porn star career. When I heard about the interview, I happened to be driving and actually was looking forward to hearing what the young woman had to say. Unlike most, I actually consider sex work a career and believe that women should have the agency to choose it without nose-snubbing judgment. Many women, not “victims,” pursue these careers and that’s their prerogative. It’s not mine or your body, so get over it!
Now that everyone is clear on my intellectual stance, the real reason that I want to discuss this interview is because Brian Pumper’s voice impersonation of female porn stars and clear domination over Montana made me want to vomit. It’s one thing for Montana to announce her entry into porn, her love for sex, and enjoyment in performing it. However, anyone who watches the video clearly can see that’s not the case. In fact, I didn’t see the point of Brian Pumper being in it at all. It gave me a creepy, pimp feel when he was talking about the porn videos that he directed and the “compliments” that he gave female porn stars when they “performed” well. In his best female voice, he mocks some of these women’s responses, making them seem extremely shy, weak, and flattered by his praise. Even when he describes the sex, both oral and intercourse, he discusses these women almost like they’re beastly animals.
I didn’t get the sense that he was about empowering women in their sexuality through the use of porn and, for that, I hope Montana Fishburne or “Chip D,” her new adult name, wises up and gets a new mentor. She’s very young, 18 years old to be exact, and while I don’t believe in judging intelligence by age, there is a lacking wisdom factor. There’s nothing wrong with being a porn star, video vixen, model, or whatever career you choose. Just do it on your own terms, where it’s financially benefiting you THE MOST, and be about the empowerment of other women, whether sexually or just in general. Don’t do it to role play as some thirsty male porn director’s shy puppet.
If we look at the history of porn, many anti-porn feminists have argued that the majority of women in the porn industry are subject to degrading roles in these videos. I think the term “degrading” is relative depending on the woman participating. She may not interpret her performance that way. My stance remains that so long as the woman is educated and informed about the power of her sexuality, she is free to use it in whatever way she chooses. In this circumstance, I think Montana needs some sex-positive women in her life to make sure she understands the risks of the industry and the importance of putting your pleasure first, even in business. Everyone wants to enjoy their job, right?
In a recent interview, Gail Dines, a noted anti-porn feminist takes a different stance, not so much focusing on the role play aspect, but drawing on questions of capitalism and the porn industry’s incredible profits.
Many people have outdated ideas that porn is pictures of naked women wearing coy smiles and not much else, or of people having hot sex. Today’s mainstream Internet porn is brutal and cruel, with body-punishing sex acts that debase and dehumanize women…
The industry frames the work as a choice, because otherwise that would ruin porn. Choice is built into the way men enjoy porn. Men I interviewed are convinced the women in porn really choose this and enjoy their job.Increasingly, women are drawn to porn by the glamorization of the industry. Some women have made porn work for them—Sasha Grey, Jenna Jameson. Jenna Jameson was on Oprah, who was gushing about her. Oprah went to her house and showed the audience Jameson’s expensive cars and private art collection. This looks attractive to women with limited resources. Capitalism can only succeed if there are people around who will do the shit work. Women with law degrees are not lining up to do porn. The vast majority of women doing porn don’t make it and don’t get famous. They end up in low paid work as well as the brothels of Nevada.
We need a world where women have real options to make a living. This is a class issue and a race issue. To talk about choice is to ignore how people are constrained by their social and economic situations.
Gail speaks of a world where women should have “real “options to make a living, complaining that people are constrained by their social and economic situations. Like every entertainment industry, the majority of aspirants do not make it - porn is no different. While it is true that many former female porn stars have lead successful, lucrative careers, some women actually enjoy sex and want to make a living off that experience, despite never being Jenna Jameson famous. Not all female porn stars are “forced” into the industry for fiscal survival. As the daughter of a noted actor, clearly Montana did not lack for money and, under Gail’s analysis, she shouldn’t be a porn star. Sexuality is not that simple and there are multiple paths that lead women to sex work. It has been cliched for too long as purely a sign of victimization. Lastly, men are not the only ones consuming porn, creating a 3,000 dollar spent-per-second industry online. Women are watching porn too! *GASP*
For the women who are comfortable with their sexuality and able to openly discuss female consumption porn without throwing judgment, I’d be curious to know how you feel about Montana’s (or really Brian Pumper’s) interview below. It may just be me, but she seems rather lost.