To date, this blog has spent a great deal of time focusing on adult actors, sex workers, and consumers of that which the former groups produce or provide. Today, however, I’d like to touch a bit on those nearest to the people who work in the adult industry, namely their closest family and friends.
What kind of effect does one’s work in these fields have on interpersonal relationships? What does that mean for the sense of self one has when working in this industry, and how is it all portrayed in Accounting for it All?
The Relevance of Outside Opinion
First, let’s explore why this is even a topic worth discussing. Given this blog’s general emphasis on the self and self alone, it might come as a surprise that the reactions of friends, family, and other loved ones would be tackled in this venue.
What must be understood, however, is that one’s self-image and identity is inevitably shaped by those with whom that individual is closest. No person is an island as they say, and the same is true for all people regardless of the industry in which they work or the media they choose to consume.
As such, it’s not only worth appreciating the effect that others’ opinions can have on those who choose to work in the adult industry, doing so only further humanizes those in this profession and creates greater empathy between consumers and performers.
Anecdote as Portal
To explore this topic, we’ll examine the personal experiences of at least one adult actor who had to confront the shift in relationship dynamics that came with her family and friends’ awareness that she was working in this industry.
Granted, from an evidential standpoint, this blog has expressed dubiousness regarding the utility of anecdotes alone when attempting to develop an understanding of the implications participation in pornography can have on any given individual. So why use anecdotes to study interpersonal relationships?
In this case, our intentions in using anecdotal evidence are descriptive rather than prescriptive. It’s not the aim of this post to present the below stories to convince readers to take action one way or another or to influence policy, for example. Instead, I hope to merely present the information for the consideration of the reader such that they develop a more thorough understanding of the very real implications participation in pornography can have on an individual’s personal relationships for better or worse.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the experiences of Lorelei Lee, who, according to The Feminist Porn Book, “has worked in the adult film industry since 1999” and “studies and teaches writing at New York University and the San Francisco Center for Sex and Culture.”
In The Feminist Porn Book, Lee recounts a story from her teenage years when her mother mentioned to Lorelei that “people might think [she’s] kind of a slut” for what she chose to wear that day. Ever the defiant teen, Lee pressed on with her chosen outfit, though for the rest of the day she recalls having “the impulse to hide and hunch [her] shoulders, [her] mother’s voice echoing in her ear.”
Imagine, then, the reaction of Lee’s mother when she told her she was working in porn. Lee recalls that her mother cried, that she worried her daughter was being “exploited.”
Though a valid concern, over the course of her essay in The Feminist Porn Book, Lee ultimately embraces her participation in pornography as a subversion of exploitation given her own personal experiences, the kind of thing that will, at some point, warrant a post unto itself.
In keeping with this post’s topic, Lee also shares how some of her friends and lovers reacted to the news of her chosen profession. In contrast to the reaction from her mother, Lee cites that most of her friends “worried only about [her] safety;” they had no outward objections on moral grounds.
Those she dated, however, had mixed reactions. At times, reactions to her profession created a sense of “endearment,” whereas other partners were downright cruel to her as a result of her line of work.
What does all of this mean, then?
As with anything else, all of this is indicative of a breadth and diversity of reactions based on one’s own experiences. The above-described negative or mixed reactions contrast greatly with the interactions Lee went on to have when attending her first adult-industry convention, for example, which was by and large a positive experience according to her comments in The Feminist Porn Book.
Surely it’s not the case that all individuals who choose this line of work ultimately find themselves embracing what all of this means for them personally and for their interpersonal relationships—and the above illustrates there was or is an interpersonal cost associated with choosing to work in the adult industry.
In returning to this blog’s general philosophy of letting consenting adults do what they would like to do, though, it’s important that those in the industry have the opportunity to evaluate all of this for themselves.
Interpersonal Relationships in Accounting for it All
How does all of this fit into Accounting for it All?
The story’s protagonist, Robin, actually encounters a diverse array of reactions when others learn of or are told of her profession of choice. For example, after sharing with her mother that she’s started to work in porn, their relationship becomes strained to the point that it might snap, which contrasts with her dad’s reaction, which is distinct from that of her brother.
Robin’s friends, too, react uniquely to the news of her involvement in porn. Robin’s long-time best friend, Sarah, views Robin’s choice through a vastly different lens than does her on-again-off-again boyfriend Malcolm. Then there’s Dave, the man Robin enlists to help her learn accounting: he, too, has a reaction that has Robin evaluating what her line of work means for her personally and professionally.
With Robin as our gateway into the world of the adult industry, as readers we can then absorb, consider, and react to this diversity of opinion. How she chooses to juxtapose all of this against her own wants and needs proves to be the backbone of her evolution as a character, which of course plays itself over the course of the entire novel.
In which direction will that evolution take Robin? Where will it leave her and her relationships with all of the important people in her life? Readers will have to wait until November 2018 to find out.
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