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On porn actresses vs real women

This week Cosmo tried to explain to people, with side-splitting hilarity, what the key differences were between porn actresses and real women. For example, porn actresses vs real women on doggy-style sex:

Porn star: “This element of degradation and anonymity is definitely not making me wonder whether you are actually attracted to me! I will call you ‘Daddy’ now because that’s not weird for either of us!”

Real woman: “I should really get that wall repainted.”

Performance vs preference

To regular readers, it might seem like I’m stating the spankingly obvious, but there is nothing deeply and inherently different about women who work in porn. They are not genetically-engineered sex-mad creatures whose only true joy in life is gargling with spunk while getting banged energetically by a group of colleagues. Nor are they sex robots, programmed purely to seek out new and exciting ways to get jizzed on. They’re people who are doing a job.

Last week I talked about the obvious differences between porn sex and ‘real’ sex, and the fact that a professional is going to do things a little differently to how you might in the comfort of your own home: it’s the professional’s job to put on a great performance. But just as I Am Not My Job, neither is a porn actress. She doesn’t live her entire life as she would at work.

At work I sign off emails with ‘kind regards’, wash up my coffee mug as soon as I’m done with it, and even occasionally wear make up. In the comfort of my own home I sign off emails with ‘See you tomorrow, twatface’, let coffee grow an inch of mould before I move it to the kitchen, and wear nothing on my face save the occasional chocolate smear. In the same way, porn actresses aren’t constantly acting.

You’re a porn star too

We all put on performances sometimes. Personally, when I’m having shiny new sex with a partner I’m far more likely to lean back when I’m on top and grab my hair with both my hands while I’m riding him. Why? Well, somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain is the idea that it makes my tits look lovely. Eager to impress, I’ll jiggle and grind hands-free so that the fortunate gentleman in question gets something to look at beside my own gurning sex face. This performance isn’t repeated often when I’m deeper into a relationship – I move towards my easier and more pleasurable default of ‘placing his hands on my tits so he can squeeze me while I fuck him.’ It’s not quite as pretty, but it more effectively hits the spot.

The Cosmo article frames what porn actresses do and think as the complete opposite of the thoughts and actions of ‘real’ women, which doesn’t make any sense at all. Sometimes I’m a porn star – with my hands-behind-my-head and my doe-eyed, spluttering blowjobs and my “please please fuck me in the ass”, because sometimes I fancy putting on a bit of a show. Other times I would prefer to just turn my back and have you lazily spoon me into an orgasm before turning the light off and falling asleep.

The problem with the Cosmo article is that it isn’t comparing the same type of shagging for each person: it’s comparing their work shagging to your play shagging. When off-camera porn actresses are the same as all of us: sometimes have the performance sex and other times they’ll have the lazy, comfortable, quick-orgasm-then-a-cup-of-tea sex.

Cosmo might as well write an article entitled ‘Accountants vs real women’, highlighting how hilarious it is that the accountant is careful about their figures, while ‘real’ women jot down a budget on the back of an envelope. Would we actually expect an accountant to get out a calculator and perform double-entry bookkeeping for the household bills, ensuring everything is signed off in triplicate? No. Because accountants, unlike porn actresses, aren’t expected to drag their work kicking and screaming into every corner of their life.

i had to edit this to take into account the fact that some accountants are also porn actresses and vice versa. Let it never be said that I'm not thorough.

Porn actresses vs ‘real’ women

This matters because I find it a bit creepy to separate porn actresses from ‘real’ women. As if their lives are defined entirely by their jobs, and their jobs must necessarily bleed into every aspect of their daily routine. Separating women who work in porn from women who work anywhere else implies a lot of ‘other’ness that leads to uncomfortable assumptions.

If porn women are different to ‘real’ women, do they behave differently? Could you spot them in a crowd? Do they need to be treated differently, because of the sexual qualities than run through every aspect of them?

The answer, of course, is ‘no’.

It’s important for people to understand the difference between porn sex and real sex: of course it is. When I wrote about Sex Box I got a (probably justified) telling-off for not making it clear that we should educate people (particularly young people) on the difference between porn sex and home sex. Of course this is important – if you’ve never had sex before and all of your beliefs are shaped by what you see on the screen, you’ll could end up with a devastatingly inaccurate view of what a fun shag has to look like. Just as if you only ever watched Eastenders you’d have a terrifying impression of East London.

So the distinction is important. But let’s remember that it’s not a distinction between ‘real’ humans and a porn-making race of sexual superbeings. The people are all fundamentally the same: it’s the type of sex that changes.

18 Comments

  • Argon says:

    Hey hey! I object to your diagram. There should be an overlap between accountants and pornstars. Some people work two jobs after all!

    Otherwise, an excellent piece of writing. You should write a book or something.

  • Daisy says:

    Wait, what? It’s weird to call him Daddy when he’s fucking me? I don’t do it every time, but oh my. When he pins me down and growls “are you gonna be a good girl fir Daddy?” Holy fuck.

  • Girl on the net says:

    Some people on Twitter have complained that my venn diagram makes it look like all accountants are women. And for some reason this strikes me as incredibly important, so here goes:

    I assume everyone knows that not all accountants are women. I didn’t want to label one side ‘female accountants’, because gendering people’s job titles for little to no reason seems silly. I used ‘porn actress’ because that’s what Cosmo used, although generally I’d prefer to say ‘porn performer’ or similar.

    So… the venn diagram is one that includes only a dataset of ‘real women’ – real men are included in other venn diagrams elsewhere. Thus, of the master dataset of real women, there is a subsection that is accountants, a subsection that is porn actresses, etc. If anyone is better than me at maths and wants to tell me that I am categorically wrong then please do. But you will make me sad on a Sunday, and Jesus would be angry about that.

  • Cindy says:

    So observant. I only see my partner every 2-3 months as we live a country apart at the moment. We usually spend 3 or so nights together: the first night is “I missed/love you passionate sex”, the next night culminates in porn sex, as kinked as possible, and the third night is slow, easy, and satisfying. The fun is the variety.

  • P says:

    What Cosmo says it’s doing and what it’s perhaps trying to actually do are not the same. What it’s trying to do calls for a less snappy title like “How some narrative conventions in porn differ from plausible real-life analogues”. Any slurring or stereotyping of porn performers as people is an accident of populist writing, though I would guess a feature not a bug.

    Though that is, roughly, what you said.

  • Armondikov says:

    Cosmo has always had this weird relationship with sex, and much of it comes down to the fact that while women can have this supposedly “mind-blowing” sex if they follow the magazine’s mediocre “tips”, they’re not really allowed to actually enjoy it. Why else do you think the descriptions by “real women” in the article read as being hyper-cynical? Sure, there’s a bit of humour in it, but in reality “real” women would be a randomised admixture of “yeah, I really should get that wall painted…” and “gods yes, just f**king do me” and everything in between. The idea that such nuance and variation could exist, or that women could possibly make up their own minds about how to act and what to enjoy when it comes to sex, is the complete antithesis of magazines that are based around selling broad and simplistic advice and “solutions”.

    The “real” women label is a bit creepy, but it’s not unusual. Cosmo is only a small step up from the glossy magazines who advertise themselves as having stories about “real people and celebrities”, faintly implying that someone who was famous from spending 15 seconds on a reality show is no longer, ironically, real. It’s about separating the targeted audience from what they’re going to praise or deride this week. It’s not just women, or sex, that they do this with, it’s practically *everything*.

    Also, when you re-did the Venn diagram you left the faint yellow outline of “Accountants” in the same spot. It now looks like the “Accountants” are jumping from their spot, ready to roughly mount the “Porn Actresses” from behind.

  • Jervis says:

    It strikes me that those who decry porn as exploitative are in-fact buying into the idea that all female sexual expression = objectification. There seems to be a lack of imagination on their part that a woman could actually enjoy expressing herself sexually and would wilfully choose to do so (but for some if she does want to be sexual, it must be the influence of the patriarchy – so there’s no way a woman can have free will when it comes to sex). Therefore the enjoyment is all on the male side of the ledger. Women can have their freedom so long as they don’t do anything that men might enjoy.

    I’m sure you get it that not everyone is, or needs to be, regularly concerned with sexual activity. For a lot of people, kinks, fetishes and other sexual matters just aren’t an overwhelming interest in their daily life. That’s quite ok. A person’s sexuality and how they choose to express it is their personal, private business. People have a right to be themselves (within ethical limits), and not to be pressured to be sexual or to be non-sexual.

    As you point out, characterising a porn actress as “not real” dehumanises her – makes her the “other”. This is very dangerous – once someone classifies another person as “other” there is far less sympathy, far less motivation to stand up against injustices and inequality against that person. Rather than automatically equating sexual expression with objectification, we should remind ourselves that we are duty-bound to respect each other as human unconditionally – sexual expression (or lack thereof) should never be taken as a factor.

    • Girl on the net says:

      “we are duty-bound to respect each other as human unconditionally – sexual expression (or lack thereof) should never be taken as a factor.”

      I think this pretty neatly sums up lots of what I try to say on this blog – couldn’t agree more, and thanks for putting it so succinctly!

  • Isaac says:

    Well said, well written. Best, clearest statement on sex and porn I’ve read. Keep up the good work.

  • Emily says:

    What a weird comment to make on doggy-style sex regarding ‘degradation and anonymity’. If your sexual partner is making you feel degraded, that hasn’t got a lot to do with the position you’re in, and a lot to do with whether or not they actually respect you. Also, fuck this idea that the ‘real women’ are only ever going through the motions of sex and their minds are elsewhere. If I’m having doggy-style sex with my boyfriend I’m not feeling degraded *or* pondering the state of the décor, I’m having a bloody wonderful time.

    I hate that people think there is any one right way to have sex, whether that’s ‘all the foreplay, candles lit, rose petals, staring into each other’s eyes’ or ‘ripping each other’s clothes off and fucking as soon as you walk in the door’. (Or that these things can’t exist together.)

  • Dm7 says:

    Well said, GOTN.

    Also, loving the bit of casual racism Cosmo throw in at comment number 2. I’m sure all qualified Polish beauty therapists who specialise in epilation love to be referred to as an “Eastern European with dead eyes.”

  • I.L. says:

    GOTN, you should see “Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Comedy” because it is just what it sounds like. Sexual-wise I don’t know if you’d like it since it’s very happy-go-lucky sex and not the hard-fucking type of stuff you seem to be into.

    It is funny though. It may not get you off but it will get you to laugh.

    P.S. Don’t worry everyone’s over 18 in it.

  • Maia says:

    haha, you are way wrong – i had a friend who was an accountant

  • YES, Oh my gosh, Thank You for writing this article! I completely agree with you – “there is nothing different about women who work in porn.” I don’t get why anyone would think otherwise, but you are right. You should read this article I just saw written by a porn star who’s fired up about the Cosmo article stating that there is a difference between “porn stars and real women.” https://www.slixa.com/under-cover/423-pornstars-and-the-real-girl. This got me thinking and I have been searching for another viewpoint that matched mine. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t find many articles that support that porn stars ARE real women too – so again, Thank YOU for this article.

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