After writing my last article dealing with anal sex and how it is portrayed in the media, I thought more about how disrespected Sasha Grey was on the Tyra Banks show in which she appeared.1 Then last night I watched Sasha’s reply on YouTube about what happened during the show. The entire show, as mentioned in my previous post, made Sasha out to be a victim and someone who needs to quit doing “dirty” things to her body. After reading about the Sasha phenomenon I set out to find other places where pornography was slammed in mainstream American media. What I stumbled upon really surprised me.
Many of you may have heard of the Pink Cross Foundation. According to their website, thepinkcross.org, “Pink Cross Foundation is a faith-based IRS approved 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to reaching out to adult industry workers offering emotional, financial and transitional support.” At first I thought this was a positive thing. Helping women who choose to no longer work in the sex industry transition and find new jobs – sounds like a plan to me. However, I soon found out this was not the case. Upon opening the website I saw a banner that read, “Where addicts find healing and pornstars find hope” with a picture of a blond woman tied up, her mouth taped and looking as though she has been crying. This alone makes me angry. To assume that every woman who chooses to go into porn has been victimized and are forced to be there by someone holding them at gun point is nothing more than a lie. Are there some women who would like to have a job other than porn? Sure. Are there some issues in the porn industry? Of course, just like with every other industry. But to say that is so blanketed and misinformed that the site loses any credibility they would have had.
The second thing I noticed, after re-reading the statement was that this is a “faith-based” organization. Therefore, instead of trying to address the issues in the porn industry from an objective standpoint, the foundation is viewing everything through a Judeo-Christian lens. This can be detrimental as not all people in the porn industry subscribe to this religion and can also be offensive to people of all genders and sexual orientations that have worked hard to help people understand that sexual expression is natural and is not a “dirty” thing that needs to happen only in the bedroom between a cis man and woman. If people choose to make a living out of expressing their sexuality and enjoying sex, that should not be shamed.
Off to the side of the webpage there is a list about facts about pornography. I will say that some of these facts are good to bring to the attention of the public. Such as, “70% of sexually transmitted infections in the porn industry occur in females.” and “Chlamydia and Gonorrhea among performers is 10x greater than that of LA County 20-24 year olds.” These can raise awareness about STDs not only in pornography, but in the lives of people everywhere. STD prevention is something everyone can strive for and is something that should be promoted more in today’s society.
However, later on there are also statements saying things like the biggest audience of pornography is made up of teenagers. This is both offensive as well as indicative of sex education in the United States. I’m going to tackle this in two separate points as follows:
1) It is offensive – This statement is offensive beyond the fact that the legal age for viewing porn is 18 in the United States. It also implies that teenagers are not sexual, are not going to explore sexuality and it is bad that they are interested in learning about sex.
2) It is indicative of sex education in the United States – As stated before, I am not against teenagers viewing porn. It is almost bound to happen, however, the problem comes in when teenagers view porn as sex education. When this happens they don’t get exposure to things like birth control and STD prevention, they don’t get to know that anal sex is something that is prepared for and they might have too many expectations of what sex should be like. However, this is not the fault of pornography. Porn is meant to be fantasy. The reality is that sex education needs to be improved to include not only birth control and STD prevention, but also dialogue between peers about sexuality and what is realistic vs. what is fantasy.
If the Pink Cross Foundation really wanted to help women they would be increasing sex education and letting women know that they have choices rather than shaming them into either being “good” women or “dirty” women and victims of their own occupations. Before this organization can do any good at all they need to realize that not every person they come across is going to share their religion and by basing their foundation on religion, they are not only making sex something shameful, they are also excluding many women who may otherwise appreciate their efforts.
I want to make clear that this is not meant to be an overall slam on the Pink Cross Foundation, it is meant to be a critique of an organization that could improve itself to actually do the mission it claims it does rather than to use Christianity to shame women and others into being sexual beings. That mission is that they are “dedicated to reaching out to adult industry workers offering emotional, financial and transitional support.” That could be wonderful for women wanting to change careers, and as long as this change of careers is voluntary and is what the actors and actresses want themselves, I would be more than supportive of the Pink Cross Foundation. However, as they are now, the Pink Cross Foundation will not win my support and I believe that anyone who is sex-positive would agree. Should the Pink Cross Foundation change its ways, I will willingly support them in any way that I can.
1 The video can be found on YouTube simply by searching “Tyra Banks Sasha Grey” for those who are interested.