Any feminist of merit knows what frequently happens with battered and otherwise abused women: they blame themselves, they rarely leave immediately, and they often love their abuser. “It’s bad most of the time, yeah, but the good times are really great.” I know. I’ve been there too (though he only “battered” me via BDSM and rough sex). She often stays, and we don’t blame her for that, even when she’s rationalizing it. We don’t say she “agreed” to be hit in exchange for money if she chooses to stay out of economic necessity. We know battered women’s syndrome and Stockholm syndrome, and a lot of us have been there. We understand.
But when a woman is in porn, somehow the standard feminist narrative is that they chose it, and they stay because they like it. When someone feels that women in porn or are being abused, or even just points out that they are paid to act, we are accused of “victimizing” them and accusing them of false consciousness by pro-porn ‘feminists.’ Or worse, being “unable” to handle the idea that a woman might like having sex with strangers for money. (Because we’re prudes, basically.) They might be treated badly, but they make good money (better than most other entry-level jobs), they get attention, adoration, and affection.* It can make you feel fuckable or lovable. If they chose to make money by working in porn or prostitution, even when it’s violent or she has a lack of economically feasible alternatives, most of these feminists would say she consented.
Isn’t saying battered wives who say their partners are wonderful “assuming” they’re a victim and arguing that they have a false consciousness? Isn’t that just as “patronizing,” to say that a woman is being abused when she says she isn’t?
What is the difference, then, between an abused porn actress and an abused wife?
One stays out of love or fear; the other out of a need for money, drugs or attention. One is a “good girl”; the other a “bad girl.” The slut is ok to hurt and punish, the virgin should be taken care of. What am I trying to say? Either the “sex-positives” need to blame women for staying with their abusers and defend the rationalizations they make for them, or they need to acknowledge that all kinds of abused and hurt people will deny their pain and situation. It’s hypocritical to do otherwise. Unless pro-sex industry feminists mean to favor “good girls” and “prudes” over whores–you know, that thing they always accuse us of.
I am sick of all this “rational choice” shit. Unfortunately, I know that we’re heading towards blaming women from what I have seen on sites such as feministing and at the feminist club on my campus. I am sick of empathy going out the window, and all we talk about are the pay gap or birth control. I am tired of settling.
* What I mean here by “affection” is not actual affection, but the conflating of abuse/love that often happens with rape, especially with incest from what I understand.