Sex Work, Sexual Assault, and the Election

Sex Work, Sexual Assault, and the Election

Today, another woman has come forward to accuse Republican nominee Donald Trump of sexual assault. Her name is Jessica Drake, and she is one of eleven women to officially speak about her experiences with Mr. Trump.

Jessica Drake offers photographic evidence of her and Trump together at the event where the sexual misconduct took place, while some of the other accusers have failed to prove that there was an interaction. Her story- that Donald Trump offered her money and the use of his private jet in exchange for sleeping with him- sounds entirely plausible, given Trump’s own admission on the 2005 Access Hollywood tapes that he once took a woman furniture shopping as an attempt to advance on her. Given that Jessica Drake has made it clear that she is not seeking money or retribution, there seems to be no reason to doubt her claims.

Yet, unfortunately, I assume most people will do so regardless, based on one trivial fact. Ms. Drake happens to be an adult film actress. And for whatever reason, people have trouble respecting the sexual autonomy of women who have sex for money.

In recent years, we’ve seen popular porn actor James Deen’s adult film career thrive despite rape allegations against him by Stoya, an adult film actress. When Stoya spoke out about the abuse she faced from him, she was quoted as saying that she had called a friend asking to be talked out of coming forward, saying

“I was calling to say, ‘Kayden, remind me of the slut-shaming, remind me how I will ruin our business, remind me how I will be told that porn stars can’t be raped, remind me of how I will be called a liar, remind me that it will quite likely undo and undermine a decade of work in the porn industry.’”

Sure enough, Stoya was victimized on social media by fans of Deen’s claiming that she was lying for attention. After the allegations, Deen’s career has continued to thrive, while Stoya has largely stayed away from adult film work besides contractual obligations. Deen was accused of sexual misconduct by at least ten women, and his career has hardly taken a hit. The women who were bold enough to speak out have not experienced the same success.  

Now, outside of the microcosm of the porn industry, we are experiencing something similar. A well-known man has been accused of sexual misconduct by eleven women and counting, and these women are widely being accused of being money-seeking, slanderous liars. On social media sites, people are asking why the women had never filed police reports or sued previously, implying that they must be motivated by fame or money. According to the New York Times

The pressure not to name names can be strong whenever the perpetrator is someone the woman knows. An accusation forces everyone who knows the two people to choose a side: accuser or accused? Choosing the accuser often means going against the broader group or community.

In her work on college campuses around the country, Ms. Brodsky said, she has observed that “peers and friends are much more inclined to be sympathetic to victims if they don’t make anyone’s life more complicated.”

It’s easy to support a victim if we don’t know who victimized them. It is easy to support a victim if we don’t like the person who hurt them. It was easy, last week, for Donald Trump to support the women who have made allegations against Bill Clinton. This week, he threatens to sue anyone who comes forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against himself.

Donald Trump has already made it clear that he disrespects women who work in adult films, as he tried to discredit Alicia Machado’s claims that he bullied her by tweeting that she was “no angel” and had been in a “sex tape.” While that turned out to not even be true, it makes me cringe to imagine what will be said before the end of the day to discredit Jessica Drake. I have already read tweets accusing her of seeking fame- but if what Stoya experienced in the adult film industry is any predictor, any publicity that comes from coming forward with sexual assault allegations is not worth the trouble.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s