“The War on Porn”: Four words that adult producers, webmasters, and especially journalists like to toss around to convey the magnitude of the government’s apparent grudge against the adult entertainment’s own special kind of sexual liberation. You hear them spoken by just about every panelist at adult conventions, by concerned webmasters on message boards, and by the politicians who discovered Weapons of Ass Destruction in Porn Valley and decided to launch an attack to stop the alleged erosion of morals in America.
Such hype is great for calling attention to our plight, of course, but as often as we hear all these folks crying about the so-called War on Porn, it seems to me that we never hear their opinion about the even uglier war that’s being fought right in our own backyard—the war between ourselves.
In putting together last month’s cover story about the debate over “extreme” adult content, I encountered a good deal of hostility between pornographers who are divided in their opinions on the value of such controversial material. This is nothing new, of course: Pornographers as high-profile as ClubJenna’s Jay Grdina and Homegrown Video’s Spike Goldberg have publicly denounced their more extreme colleagues while speaking on adult-themed panels, while the notoriously reviled – such as Extreme Associates’ unapologetically vocal Rob Black – have shot back with accusations of “wimping out” in the fight for free speech by copping pleas with the Department of Justice and selling out their peers. Meanwhile, over on the gay side, the ongoing debate over bareback (condom-less) sex in the age of HIV and AIDS has proved to be a major point of contention between producers.
Such a divide is bound to exist in a field as blatantly ego-driven as adult entertainment, especially in times as stressful and paranoid as these. Yet, as I listen to the accusations and insults being hurled back and forth like gunfire between the proverbial Hatfields and McCoys, I can’t help feeling disheartened by all the infighting, the name-calling, and – most saddening of all – the judgment. Far too often I hear pornographers say things like “I might be in porn, but at least I’m not doing that.” It makes me wonder if we’ve internalized the negative stigma against adult producers so much that pointing fingers at others is the only way we can feel better about our own involvement in the industry.
Obviously, there’s nothing that says we all have to agree on the merits of each producer’s content. However, I would think that if any group of people was ever able to meet on some kind of common ground and band together, it would be the adult industry. While the government might be more likely to prosecute a site that features women being tied up and fucked to within an inch of their lives instead of one that showcases softcore images of girls in bikinis, to the outside world, porn is porn. Opponents of the adult industry think we’re all dirty perverts, and to some extent, they’re right. We all profit from sex in one way or another. By default, that very fact makes us allies more than it makes us enemies.
In other words – as naively Pollyana-esque as it may sound to some – if we’re all going to be in bed together, the least we can do is have a bit of fun while we're there.