BY MATTHEW EVANGELISTA
I’m not going to assume you know who Amber Rayne is because she was a porn star. Rayne was raped and beaten during shoots, was diagnosed with uterine cancer and struggled for months through chemotherapy before dying eight months ago at 31 to an accidental cocaine overdose. The comments on websites that have stories regarding her death are split between how she’s going to hell for her lifestyle, and just commenting on her career. Nobody seemed to care that she had died.
Let’s not waste space being bashful about the topic. Before her death Rayne was one of 10 women to claim they were sexually assaulted by fellow porn star James Deen, the highest ranked and viewed male porn star on the website PornHub. His status in the industry will protect him from these allegations. Also, not only are women and men in the industry dehumanized for their profession, but issues relating to health and safety are never taken seriously because nobody cares enough to enforce them.
Porn is not natural. Scripts and positions are practised, sets are built, and footage is edited afterwards. The environment is controlled, with many people there – from camera operators and sound people to directors. If a rape happens in this environment then it needs to be addressed.
However, assaults and rapes are happening on set and nothing is being done. Rayne was punched close fisted in the face twice and sexually assaulted. Actresses who came out against Deen say that their safe word, discussed and agreed to in their contract before their films entered principal photography, is being ignored.
More importantly is viewer responsibility. The viewer needs to draw a line between enjoying a hardcore scene and supporting a scene where the woman or man is clearly being abused by their partner and/or ignored by stage crew. This is not me telling you what to watch, but rather to make sure what you watch was designed to be that way.
Three months after the charges were laid against Deen, www.mic.com’s Jenny Kutner wrote:
“He seems to understand, perhaps better than anyone, that he’s walking around in a gray area where the rules don’t necessarily apply, where he can be publicly accused of sexual abuse by 10 women and still win awards from his community.”
The Adult Performer Advocacy Committee is an organization made up of people in the industry designed to protect adult actors from situations like this, but also addresses health and safety issues with an added focus on public awareness. PornHub even offers an entire category for behind-the-scenes documentary footage and industry interviews. Resources on the issue aren’t hard to find, but that isn’t the problem, to be honest, they’re just ignored.
Porn stars are people, working men and women who want to feel safe in their workplace. These actors and actresses want and deserve respect and workplace equality. The industry and ultimately viewers must stop treating them like a product.