FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Rise of the Intellectual Pornstar

The recent book Philosophy, Pussycats and Porn by the pornstar known as “Stoya” certainly isn’t the first someone in the porn industry has penned. Instead, this new collection of essays that discusses different topics from technology to religious iconography, is just the latest product from a new generation of porn performers taking an intellectual stand on social issues. They’re filling a niche that, in many ways, has been created by modern capitalism—an economic system that robustly supports human desire. In a way, these intellectual porn stars have turned into the avant-garde academics in this field, philosophers of the flesh and some of society’s most serious thinkers on human sexuality.

Porn is now more mainstream than it has ever been. Pornstars appear everywhere from blockbuster TV shows like Game of Thrones to political podcasts. But the industry’s unique complexity breeds. Of course, the porn industry remains a contradictory place where feminism and sexism intermingle and the line between public and private is constantly erased. Yet it’s precisely this complexity that has empowered these pornstars to become intellectuals, who help us all to understand the nuanced world in which they live.

Award-winning, U.S.-based Australian pornstar Angela White is known for her advocacy of women’s rights and body positivity. She consistently pushes for a culture that celebrates diversity in both bodies and genders. Conner Habib, an American gay pornstar of Middle Eastern and Irish descent, was a college lecturer of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst before he began shooting porn scenes. Now he’s also known for his writing and his thought-provoking podcast “Against Everyone with Conner Habib,” in which he interviews guests about different issues and articulates his own thoughtful views on the intersection of philosophy, sex, and anthroposophy.

And this isn’t an exclusively American phenomenon. In Europe, similar characters are appearing. Valentina Nappi in Italy and Amarna Miller of Spain are both porn stars who attended art school and grew up in countries where the Catholic Church held a firm grip on the social and political life. Yet these women have boldly voiced a feminist and hedonistic worldview, pushing the boundary of public opinion.

In the Trump era, porn’s political connotations are particularly important—and ironic. Despite the 2016 GOP resolution dubbing porn a “public health crisis,” Republican president Donald Trump is accused of having had an affair with pornstar Stormy Daniels. Many conservatives have spoken critically of Daniels—former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani has mocked her job and her looks. Despite the attacks, Stormy has been able to capitalize on her moment in the sun, running a strip club tour and releasing a book about the affair. Unlike many Trump critics, she hasn’t been silenced by the president or his loyalists. Indeed, she has persisted with her version of the story, disallowing anyone from shaming her and transforming herself into a feminist hero of sorts.

That isn’t to say the porn industry is a beacon of morality in the fallen world. In spite of its status as a pioneer in the world of social change, there remain issues stemming from the #MeToo movement as stories of sexual abuse inside the industry start to emerge. Reports of racism in the industry, too, have cropped up, and performers, on the whole, are making less than they have at any prior time. Indeed, there have even been some efforts to unionize the adult entertainment industry in order to change this reality.

Porn, of course, is always a complex issue—one that has generally been ignored in academia, with few exceptions. This seems neglectful since porn is often at the forefront of significant social change. Recently, it has embraced body positivity and the sexual empowerment of mature women. But historically, the industry has been busy depicting interracial, gay and trans relationships that, for a long time, weren’t featured in more mainstream media.

The porn industry used to thrive only in society’s marginal areas, but it has successfully managed to develop into a billion-dollar business. Now, the porn has the room to reinvent itself every day while poking fun at the deepest taboos of society. It can laugh at both presidential candidates and social activists, comment on the social problems of today and push for reforms in areas that other industries are scared to. After all, there is simply a market for everything.

 

More articles by:

Camilo Gómez is a freelance writer and host of the History and Politics podcast.

July 09, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
COVID-19 Exposes the Weakness of a Major Theory Used to Justify Capitalism
Ahrar Ahmad
Racism in America: Police Choke-hold is Not the Issue
Timothy M. Gill
Electoral Interventions: a Suspiciously Naïve View of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War World
Daniel Falcone
Cold War with China and the Thucydides Trap: a Conversation with Richard Falk
Daniel Beaumont
Shrink-Wrapped: Plastic Pollution and the Greatest Economic System Jesus Ever Devised
Prabir Purkayastha
The World Can Show How Pharma Monopolies Aren’t the Only Way to Fight COVID-19
Gary Leupp
“Pinning Down Putin” Biden, the Democrats and the Next War
Howard Lisnoff
The Long Goodbye to Organized Religion
Cesar Chelala
The Dangers of Persecuting Doctors
Mike Garrity – Erik Molvar
Back on the List: A Big Win for Yellowtone Grizzlies and the Endangered Species Act, a Big Loss for Trump and Its Enemies
Purusottam Thakur
With Rhyme and Reasons: Rap Songs for COVID Migrants
Binoy Kampmark
Spiked Concerns: The Melbourne Coronavirus Lockdown
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela is on a Path to Make Colonialism Obsolete
George Ochenski
Where are Our Political Leaders When We Really Need Them?
Dean Baker
Is it Impossible to Envision a World Without Patent Monopolies?
William A. Cohn
Lead the Way: a Call to Youth
July 08, 2020
Laura Carlsen
Lopez Obrador’s Visit to Trump is a Betrayal of the U.S. and Mexican People
Melvin Goodman
Afghanistan: What is to be Done?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
The End of the American Newspaper
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Merits of Medicare for All Have Been Proven by This Pandemic
David Rosen
It’s Now Ghislaine Maxwell’s Turn
Nicolas J S Davies
Key U.S. Ally Indicted for Organ Trade Murder Scheme
Bob Lord
Welcome to Hectobillionaire Land
Laura Flanders
The Great American Lie
John Kendall Hawkins
Van Gogh’s Literary Influences
Marc Norton
Reopening vs. Lockdown is a False Dichotomy
Joel Schlosberg
“All the Credit He Gave Us:” Time to Drop Hamilton’s Economics
CounterPunch News Service
Tribes Defeat Trump Administration and NRA in 9th Circuit on Sacred Grizzly Bear Appeal
John Feffer
The US is Now the Global Public Health Emergency
Nick Licata
Three Books on the 2020 Presidential Election and Their Relevance to the Black Live Matter Protests
Elliot Sperber
The Breonna Taylor Bridge
July 07, 2020
Richard Eskow
The War on Logic: Contradictions and Absurdities in the House’s Military Spending Bill
Daniel Beaumont
Gimme Shelter: the Brief And Strange History of CHOP (AKA CHAZ)
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s War
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Racism May be Blatant, But the Culture He Defends Comes Out of the Civil War and Goes Well Beyond Racial Division
Andrew Stewart
Can We Compare the George Floyd Protests to the Vietnam War Protests? Maybe, But the Analogy is Imperfect
Walden Bello
The Racist Underpinnings of the American Way of War
Nyla Ali Khan
Fallacious Arguments Employed to Justify the Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s Autonomy and Its Bifurcation
Don Fitz
A Statue of Hatuey
Dean Baker
Unemployment Benefits Should Depend on the Pandemic
Ramzy Baroud – Romana Rubeo
Will the ICC Investigation Bring Justice for Palestine?
Sam Pizzigati
Social Distancing for Mega-Million Fun and Profit
Dave Lindorff
Private: Why the High Dudgeon over Alleged Russian Bounties for Taliban Slaying of US Troops
George Wuerthner
Of Fire and Fish
Binoy Kampmark
Killing Koalas: the Promise of Extinction Down Under
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail