Sep
14

Pornography, Prostitution & Sex Trafficking: How Do You Tell the Difference?

By Sam Berg  //  Articles, Sam Berg  //  2 Comments

One of three reports written for the feminist newsjournal off our backs covering the Pornography and Pop Culture: Reframing Theory, Rethinking Activism conference held at Wheelock College in March 2007.


Pornography, Prostitution & Sex Trafficking: How Do You Tell the Difference?

Melissa Farley and Rachel Lloyd reported by Samantha Berg
Pornography is prostitution. It’s seems like such a simple statement of fact but hearing Dr. Melissa Farley say it evoked a mixture of both common sense and something sinister lurking in the margins of that plainspoken truth. Paying someone for sex is prostitution regardless of whether or not cameras record it, but ask people how California can be the porn capital of the world despite prostitution’s illegality and you’ll be faced with stymied expressions.

Dr. Farley has seen such stymied faces many times before. A researcher and clinical psychologist, in 1995 she founded the San Francisco nonprofit Prostitution Research and Education to share researched facts about the sex industries. During her presentation she drew clearer lines between pornography and prostitution than most people prefer not to dwell on even if they sort of know how these crimes against women go down. Evidence presented to re-integrate prostituted women into critiques of pornography that euphemistically refers to them as “actresses” and “stars” included:


  • 49% of 854 prostituted persons reported pornography was made of them while they were prostituting.
  • The Bunny Ranch brothel in Nevada has porn made at it and pornographers purchase brothels in Nevada.
  • An ad for a strip club boasted they were “Breeding pornstars one girl at a time.”

 

Prostituted women who had pornography made of them had significantly more PTSD than others. Knowing their sexual abuse is entertainment for thousands of men around the world greatly exacerbated their symptoms as did the lifelong fear they would be ‘found out’ as prostitutes.

Rachel Lloyd followed Dr. Farley’s research-heavy opener by putting a human face, her own, on the statistics of pornography’s intersections with prostitution. Lloyd came from an impoverished home in England where her mother was an alcoholic and her father was absent, so she left school at thirteen to do the best she could fending for herself. Growing up she saw sexpot singer Samantha Fox topless on The Sun’s infamous page 3 and knew she wanted to be a Page 3 Girl, so when at age 14 she got the chance to do some modeling she jumped at the chance.

It would be several years before she turned her first trick in a German strip club, but what Lloyd wanted to get across to the audience was that she had been primed for the eventual leap into prostitution by pornography her whole life. Lloyd stressed that it takes a whole pornified village to instill the idea into young girls that their worth is wrapped entirely in their sexual availability to men.

After two years of exploitation in the sex industry, a fight with an abusive pimp that left her with a long scar on her hand was the final straw and Lloyd changed her life. She founded Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), a New York organization that provides support to underage girls in the sex industry and lobbies for legislation aimed at protecting sexually exploited youth. Her commitment to helping young girls escape sexual exploitation brought her to Wheelock’s pornography conference because pornography is most girls’ first introduction to prostitution. Dr. Farley had quoted one prostituted woman as saying, “We were all introduced to prostitution by pornography” and the personal testimony Lloyd offered reinforced that pornography is used to convince girls that prostitutes are what they really want to be.


Melissa Farley is a clinical psychologist and founder and director of Prostitution Research and Education in San Francisco. She is editor of Prostitution, Trafficking and Traumatic Stress.

Rachel Lloyd, a sex industry survivor, is the founder of Girls Educational Mentoring Services (GEMS), and organization that provides support to underage girls in the sex industry in New York City.

2 Comments to “Pornography, Prostitution & Sex Trafficking: How Do You Tell the Difference?”

  • I cannot stop reading the articles on this website. So well done and definitely stuff I’ll keep in mind when I talk to my pro-pornography friends.

  • Supreme compliments any writer would be honored to hear, thank you.

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