I‘ve never met Stoya. And, weirdly, I’ve never seen a porn with her in it. But I decided a long time ago that she’s cool, because she did a song and video with Amanda Palmer.
And I’ve read interviews, in which she comes across as smart and funny. She isn’t just intelligent and savvy, though; she’s remarkably beautiful.
Therefore (for the other reasons, not the beauty), if she says something about conditions in the porn industry, I’m inclined to think it’ll be the view of a sensible, smart person.
So when she said she was raped by James Deen, I didn’t think that on its own was legal proof, but that it was more likely than not to be true.
I haven’t met James Deen, either. He’s a male porn star, maybe the only male porn worker to be a star in his own right, right now. I haven’t seen any of his videos either. I mean, I do watch porn, but I don’t have time to keep up with all of it.
But I knew submissive women who thought James Deen was supremely good news. He was much more fanciable than the tattooed, muscle-bound caricature that the porn industry thinks is an attractive man. Deen looked like a regular guy, someone a woman might meet and decide to take home and fuck. So, over time, his videos became starring vehicles for him. The naked women got equal or second billing to a man, which is incredibly rare in porn.
In the bdsm-flavoured porns he did, I’m told the vibe was both rough but also playful. He’d be savage, but politely so, and he’d manage to communicate the idea that he didn’t hate the woman performer, or think she was bad. They were just playing a sexy game.
So a lot of people were reluctant to write him off when Stoya complained. He’d managed to make himself an acceptable face of porn. And it’s a “he said/she said” scenario. What can you do?
Well, you can follow the balance of the evidence. When Stoya said he’d raped her, and not stopped when she used a safe word, I thought that was probably true. Short of legal-standard proof, of course, but enough to decide that he’s probably not a nice guy, and not what he seemed to be.
But then the balance tipped dramatically in Stoya’s favour: there are now eight other women with similar stories about Deen. So it’s not “she said/he said” any more. That’s nine women with similar stories: of course it’s true. That is, of course Deen rapes women, and he can’t be trusted to respect a safe word.
Which takes any potential pleasure out of watching any of his old videos. I’m not going to look at the bloody things, I’m afraid.
His career is effectively over, I hope. The one thing is that I’m pleased about is that it seems the porn industry didn’t fuck around on this, like other media have with their rapist creeps (e.g. the BBC and Jimmy Saville; American media and Bill Cosby, and so on).
Anyway, sometimes you just have to let someone go. He may have looked like an “acceptable face of porn”, but it turns out he wasn’t. Now’s the time to drop James Deen.
And Stoya had things to lose by reporting her experience publicly. That took courage. But assaulting women, using the ambiguities of the setting and your own fame, doesn’t take courage: it’s bastardy. What else may happen depends on the women concerned, but it’s to be hoped his career stays over. .