Again this week we’ll turn to Lorelei Lee’s “A Feminist Porn Star Manifesta” in The Feminist Porn Book, this time to examine the notion of the slippery slope and its argument that “women in porn are ‘forced’ to do more ‘extreme’ performances” as time goes on in order to remain relevant and earn more money.
As Lee argues, it’s important to challenge this assertion for several reasons, the first of which is due to the slippery slope’s inherent assumption that “a woman’s sexuality has a finite value.” An extension of this idea is that somehow a woman is worth less “as her number of partners or experiences increases.”
This contrasts mightily with prevailing narratives surrounding men’s sexuality, namely those that center around notions of masculinity as sexual conquest,* be it with multiple or many partners and the exploration of the same “extreme” sex acts so scrutinized when women participate in them.
All of this makes another harmful assumption, that being that no woman would want to partake in the kinds of sex depicted in more “hardcore” genres, which Lee mentions include “anal sex, double-penetrations, fisting, and any number of ‘fetish’ activities.”
In Lee’s observation, this narrative runs contrary to her own experiences and those of actors closest to her. She cites that though there are unscrupulous agents or directors who might coerce talent into pursuing these avenues, there are “women with long porn careers who will tell you they chose to do each of their at-work performances as freely as many people choose to work in office buildings.”
Furthermore, she mentions that, among other reasons, some women do these more “extreme” performances in order to push their bodies or because they believe “this kind of imagery… more closely approximates [their] own desires.”
In Accounting for it All, I do feature the “slippery slope” as part of Robin’s personal journey in the world of adult acting. Though when presented with it she buys into it as an axiom of the industry—something that ultimately leads her from work on camera altogether—she later realizes this narrative was being pushed by her then-agent in order to earn himself more money at her expense.
Fortunately, Robin’s experiences in the land of the more “extreme” generally prove fruitful for her not only financially, but as part of her understanding of herself and what she wants as a sex-positive adult.
How does that play itself out, exactly? You’ll have to wait until November 2018 to find out.
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*for a short story that challenges the idea that to be masculine is to embrace sexual conquest, you can read “What it is to Smell of Man” with Erotic Review (NSFW).