Gad Saad Ph.D.

Homo Consumericus

Why Do Women Become Porn Actresses?

A recent study sought to answer this question.

Posted May 29, 2014

In a 2012 article published in the International Journal of Sexual Health, James D. Griffith, Lea T. Adams, Christian L. Hart, and Sharon Mitchell asked 176 porn actresses to describe the reasons that led them to their profession, as well as their likes and dislikes of their chosen career. The responses were coded and categorized, and the frequencies were tabulated into three tables. The response categories, along with their percentages, are shown below. (The percentages add up to more than 100 because respondents could list multiple motives, likes, and dislikes.)

Reasons for Getting Into Porn

  1. Money: 53 percent
  2. Sex: 27 percent
  3. Attention: 16 percent
  4. Fun: 11 percent
  5. Related Industry: 7 percent
  6. Acquaintance: 7 percent
  7. Chance/Confusion: 6 percent
  8. Creative Expression: 5 percent
  9. Personal Growth: 4 percent
  10. Disliked Prior Job: 4 percent
  11. Coercion: < 1 percent

List of Likes

  1. Money: 41 percent
  2. People: 39 percent
  3. Sex: 21 percent
  4. Freedom/Independence: 18 percent
  5. Attention: 13 percent
  6. Fun: 8 percent
  7. Creative Expression: 7 percent
  8. Personal Fulfillment: 4 percent
  9. Rebellion: 1 percent

List of Dislikes

  1. People: 39 percent
  2. STD Risks: 29 percent
  3. Exploitation: 20 percent
  4. Work Conditions: 10 percent
  5. Social Stigma: 7 percent
  6. Drugs: 7 percent
  7. Politics: 6 percent
  8. Discomfort: 4 percent
  9. Outside Relationships: 2 percent

Notwithstanding the potential bias that might be inherent in such self-reporting, the findings cast doubt on the stereotype of the exploited, abused, and broken woman forced into porn servitude. The results discussed here are in line with those that I reported in an earlier article that seemed to dispel the notion that porn actresses were “damaged goods”—albeit it is instructive to note that the former porn actor Dave Pounder suggested otherwise when I interviewed him last summer.

These cumulative findings pit two opposing camps against one another. Is the proper position the one that seeks to emancipate women from the clutches of the “porn patriarchy”? Alternatively, would such protection not be a form of benevolent sexism (as it assumes that women need protecting)—and as such, women should be free to choose their vocations as they see fit? Ah, the quandary!