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I Was Fine with Porn and the Commercial Sex Industry, Until I Worked in a Brothel

"I worked at the front desk of a brothel, and the sex buyers wanted exactly what was in porn. They would complain to me if they did not get it."

Trigger warning: The following post contains descriptions of pornographic scenes and sexual situations.

 

Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to real lives.

Porn has had a detrimental effect on my relationships with men, but I didn’t realize it until I was exposed to a lot of porn in the workplace.

I worked as a receptionist in a legal Melbourne brothel that marketed itself as a “high-end” venue. I didn’t recognize why I was getting very unpleasant and degrading demands from my male partners until I saw porn for myself. It was playing on big screens in every room that I could not escape and I feel that I suffered Post Traumatic Stress from being exposed to this imagery.

Related: Is Making An OnlyFans Worth It?

This was just mainstream “vanilla” porn that I can only define as violence against women on film. I can still see the images in my head and it was over 10 years ago. This was just regular porn probably described as “soft porn” by today’s standards.

It’s easy to believe something when you don’t see it for yourself

Before I worked in this job I was pro-porn and pro-sex trade. I thought there was nothing unhealthy with watching naked people having sex to get aroused, until I saw for myself the level of degradation, exploitation, and abuse that male clients were aroused by. I also thought that selling sex for women was a legitimate career if a woman chose to do it.

In the two years I was in that job, I don’t think I met one woman who was doing it because she really wanted to. It was more of a last resort because she had no other options.

Related: What Causes People To Choose To Go Into The Porn Industry?

The sex buyers that came into the brothel wanted exactly what was in the porn, and they would complain to me if they did not get it. They wanted the “fantasy,” is how they described it.

Sex buyers only wanted the real-life porn experience

They expected the women to look like the women in porn, who looked more like girls.

Porn actresses in this porn typically looked about 14 years old with long, straight blonde hair, large fake breasts, and no pubic hair. The men protested to me that the women working were too old, even though the oldest woman in the place was around 25. Men said they were too overweight and that the “quality” was not good enough, just like they were pieces of meat.

I noticed that porn consumers can view women in this way, like they are pieces of meat that exist exclusively for their sexual pleasure. To them, it seems women are not human, and this is how I felt with my partners who had a porn habit. To be honest I have nothing else to compare them to but the situation is getting worse with the proliferation and easy accessibility of free internet porn.

The sex buyers expected the sexual practices they saw in porn from the women working in the brothel. During this time, it dawned on me that my partners were getting their sexual expectations from porn, too.

On every shift, there was one or more incidents of abuse, violence, and rough treatment from the men. They expected their experience to include anal sex, they wanted to ejaculate on the women’s faces and there were regular reports of hair pulling, verbal abuse, biting and men taking the condom off or expecting sex with no condom.

I never saw condoms in porn. Porn has become sex education for many, and the sex buyers freely admit this fact.

Watch: The 3rd episode of our documentary series exposes the link between porn and exploitation

We can’t ignore the impact porn has on consumers

I am single now and don’t want to be with a partner who watches porn. Being alone is much more preferable. In the past, all of my partners were porn consumers who had some unpleasant and degrading sexual requests.

This problem is becoming progressively worse, but even in the 90’s before internet porn, the impact that porn was having on porn consumers was noticeable. I could tell that the men I was with were visualizing porn while they were with me, which is very off-putting and hurtful to the relationship. It hurts the trust in your partner and makes you feel undesirable and inadequate.

Related: If You’re In The Sex Industry And You’re Thinking Of Leaving, Here’s What You Can Do

Young men who should be full of stamina cannot maintain an erection in some sexual situations. They seem to lack spontaneity and a sense of fun in the bedroom, they don’t like to kiss and some don’t even know how to do the basics of foreplay and intimacy.

It has reached a crisis point and I really wish porn consumers would do some self-reflection and realize the negative consequences that porn can have on relationships and their sexual health.

Jacqueline

Store - Trafficking

Porn and the commercial sex industry are interlinked

Research shows that 39% of sex buyers were “regular pornography consumers” who were “reenacting pornography with women” who were selling sex.

According to this research“46-48% of interviewees purchased sex in order to obtain sex acts they either felt uncomfortable asking of their partner or which their partner refused to perform. The most commonly cited acts were anal sex (27%) followed by oral sex (7%). Other acts mentioned included group sex, using sex toys, sadomasochism, domination, and other fetishes.”

Related: This Anonymous Performer’s Reddit Post About The Realities Of The Porn Industry Is Chilling

What are some of the sexual acts some sex buyers sought to do? To quote directly from a study about sex buyers:

“I want to pay someone to do something a normal person wouldn’t do. To piss on someone or pay someone to do something degrading who is not my girlfriend” and, “Anything you can’t get from your girlfriend or wife, you can get from a [sex seller].”

Not only can porn normalize abuse for victims, but it can also normalize sexual abuse in the minds of pornography consumers. Research suggests that when someone is consuming pornography, they’re participating in objectification.Skorska, M.N., Hodson, G., & Hoffarth, M.R. (2018). Experimental effects of degrading versus erotic pornography exposure in men on reactions toward women (objectification, sexism, discrimination). The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 27, 261 - 276.Copy Seabrook, R. C., Ward, L. M., & Giaccardi, S. (2019). Less than human? media use, objectification of women, and men’s acceptance of sexual aggression. Psychology of Violence, 9(5), 536-545. doi:10.1037/vio0000198Copy  And when consumers develop a pattern of objectification and dehumanization—viewing others as objects to be used rather than complex beings with individual agency—it can also become easier to commit violence against them.Bevens, C. L., & Loughnan, S. (2019). Insights into Men’s sexual aggression toward women: Dehumanization and objectification. Sex Roles, 81(11), 713-730. doi:10.1007/s11199-019-01024-0Copy  In fact, research has shown that porn consumers are more likely to express an intent to rape,Foubert, J. D., Brosi, M. W., & Bannon, R. S. (2011). Pornography viewing among fraternity men: Effects on bystander intervention, rape myth acceptance and behavioral intent to commit sexual assault.18(4), 212-231. doi:10.1080/10720162.2011.625552Copy  less likely to intervene during a sexual assault,Foubert, J. D., Brosi, M. W., & Bannon, R. S. (2011). Pornography viewing among fraternity men: Effects on bystander intervention, rape myth acceptance and behavioral intent to commit sexual assault.18(4), 212-231. doi:10.1080/10720162.2011.625552Copy Foubert, J. D., & Bridges, A. J. (2017). What Is the Attraction? Pornography Use Motives in Relation to Bystander Intervention. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 32(20), 3071–3089. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260515596538Copy  more likely to victim-blame survivors of sexual assault,Foubert, J. D., Brosi, M. W., & Bannon, R. S. (2011). Pornography viewing among fraternity men: Effects on bystander intervention, rape myth acceptance and behavioral intent to commit sexual assault.18(4), 212-231. doi:10.1080/10720162.2011.625552Copy Loughnan, S., Pina, A., Vasquez, E. A., & Puvia, E. (2013). Sexual Objectification Increases Rape Victim Blame and Decreases Perceived Suffering. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 37(4), 455–461. https://doi.org/10.1177/0361684313485718Copy  more likely to support violence against women,Wright, P. J., & Tokunaga, R. S. (2016). Men's Objectifying Media Consumption, Objectification of Women, and Attitudes Supportive of Violence Against Women. Archives of sexual behavior, 45(4), 955–964. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-015-0644-8Copy Seabrook, R. C., Ward, L. M., & Giaccardi, S. (2019). Less than human? media use, objectification of women, and men’s acceptance of sexual aggression. Psychology of Violence, 9(5), 536-545. doi:10.1037/vio0000198Copy  more likely to forward sexts without consent,van Oosten, J., & Vandenbosch, L. (2020). Predicting the Willingness to Engage in Non-Consensual Forwarding of Sexts: The Role of Pornography and Instrumental Notions of Sex. Archives of sexual behavior, 49(4), 1121–1132. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-01580-2Copy  and more likely to commit actual acts of sexual violence.Wright, P. J., Tokunaga, R. S., & Kraus, A. (2016). A meta-analysis of pornography consumption and actual acts of sexual aggression in general population studies. Journal of Communication, 66(1), 183-205. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12201Copy Goodson, A., Franklin, C. A., & Bouffard, L. A. (2021). Male peer support and sexual assault: The relation between high-profile, high school sports participation and sexually predatory behaviour.27(1), 64-80. doi:10.1080/13552600.2020.1733111Copy Mikorski, R., & Szymanski, D. M. (2017). Masculine norms, peer group, pornography, facebook, and men’s sexual objectification of women. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 18(4), 257-267. doi:10.1037/men0000058Copy 

In fact, some evidence suggests that this desensitization toward sexual violence through the consumption of porn can then manifest in more willingness to buy sex, which increases the demand for individuals being trafficked for sex.Gervais, S. J., & Eagan, S. (2017). Sexual objectification: The common thread connecting myriad forms of sexual violence against women. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 87(3), 226–232. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000257Copy Demand Abolition. (2018). Who buys sex? understanding and disrupting illicit market demand. Retrieved from https://www.demandabolition.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Demand-Buyer-Report-July-2019.pdfCopy Herrington, R., & McEachern, P. (2018). “Breaking her spirit” through objectification, fragmentation, and consumption: A conceptual framework for understanding domestic sex trafficking. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 27, 1-14. doi:10.1080/10926771.2017.1420723Copy 

Porn normalizes the idea that people are products to be consumed then discarded.

We can do better than view people as products. Stopping the demand for sexual exploitation starts right here, and now.

Fight the New Drug is an awareness organization educating about the harms of pornography on individuals, relationships, and society. We share research, facts, and personal accounts to help promote understanding for various aspects of this multi-faceted issue. Our goal is to maintain an environment where all individuals can have healthy and productive conversations about this issue, while acknowledging that this issue can impact any person or relationship differently.