I’m a straight girl and I’m fascinated by female pornstars. With the exception of some really dynamic performers, the male ones bore me — probably because you very rarely get to see their faces. My friend once told me he thought male porn stars are objectified even more than female ones because at least you get to see the girl-pornstars’ facial expressions. 90% of the time, even with the most famous performers, like James Deen and Ron Jeremy, all you see of male pornstars is a thrusting penis.
I don’t think that what pornstars do is degrading. I would never do porn myself — mostly because I’m not hot enough — but also because I want to be taken seriously, or at least semi-seriously, and though it’s absolutely ridiculous that doing sexy naked things on the Internet makes people not take you seriously (unless you also happen to be an outspoken genius like Stoya) it’s a reality of life right now. Maybe in the future former pornstars will be able to run for public office and get elected and no one will care so long as they have sound policies, but right now pornstars are sort of a fringe group. We watch them what they do in little 5-30 minute videos on Pornhub and once we’ve had an orgasm we get rid of the video as quickly as possible. Even if the performers are really good at what they do, there’s something about getting off that makes porn that seemed incredibly hot moments earlier suddenly seem mechanical and even laughable.
Some people have told me that they feel weird and ashamed after watching porn, and though I got over that feeling ages ago, it’s an interesting phenomenon that many of us are accustomed to watching porn, masturbating, getting off, and then feeling slightly embarrassed by what we’ve just done. Porn is an industry that brings in $97 billion a year, and no one I know pays for porn. If only 5% of porn viewers (and “porn viewers” is a title that includes almost all men with Internet connections and a lot of women—1 in 4 visitors to a porn site is female) are paying for porn, and the revenue from that 5% brings in almost 100 billion dollars, that means a lot of people watch porn. Like, probably 90% of people with an Internet connection are porn-watchers, myself included. But people don’t really publicly discuss their favorite porn stars and their most-watched videos. This is changing with the emergence of wildly popular crossover porn stars like Sasha Grey and Stoya and Jessie Andrews, who do things like star in movies and hang out with Miley Cyrus and host D.J. nights; however, porn is still something we don’t really talk about too much.
We barely think of porn stars as real people — they’re just sort of there for our entertainment. They exist within the context of the videos that we watch, and the growing popularity and celebration of porn stars in mainstream culture fascinates some of us and makes others incredibly uncomfortable. People still vilify and make fun of porn stars—Tyra Banks’ 2008 condemnation of Sasha Grey made me particularly angry, and I still can’t tell if YouTube comedian Kassem G’s “Going Deep” interview series with pornstars like Asa Akira and Skin Diamond is meant to make porn stars more popular or to make them feel like shit.
But back to my fascination with female pornstars. They’re just sort of…cool. I don’t know how to explain it, but I’ll watch videos of some of my favorite pornstars just kind of for fun, when I’m not even horny. I just like to watch them perform. They have this attitude towards sex that feels incredibly liberating. They’re nice to look at. They inspire me to do ab-workouts. They’re sex workers, they have sex with people on camera for a living, and I’m too chicken to do what they do, which is probably why I think they’re cool in the first place. I also think it’s cool that a lot of them write blogs (James Deen’s blog is particularly funny) and write articles for Vice and do other things that, y’know, help flesh them out as REAL PEOPLE, not just sex machines.
Even though I support what pornstars do, for the most part (there are some pornstars who make porn that I consider to be irresponsible, but I’ll get to that later) I’d never do porn, and another reason for this is because I’m black, and the porn industry is really, REALLY annoying about race. Every video with a black man in it is all “watch this tiny girl get fucked by a BIG BLACK COCK” and every video with an Asian girl is all “SUBMISSIVE innocent ASIAN schoolgirl gets POUNDED”. The “big black cock” videos are problematic because they’re essentially extensions of films from the early 1900s like Birth of a Nation that try to prove that black men are animalistic and sex-crazed and trying to destroy the virtue of White Christian Womanhood. The “submissive Asian” videos are problematic because they’re extensions of the idea of that all Asian women are subservient and sexually submissive. And as a black woman, I wouldn’t want any video that I starred in to be called “big booty ho gets fucked while twerking” or whatever.
So, anyway, porn is a huge industry full of mostly cool, very pretty people and also it has a serious race problem and also people are still kind of ashamed of watching it even though it’s a 100 billion dollar industry. And I have mixed feelings about porn but it’s mostly pretty awesome.