A Porn Star Is Accused of Assaulting 10 Women, But Who’s Really to Blame?

James Deen been praised as a “feminist hero” and described as the “Ryan Gosling of porn.” Despite the fact that women only make up a small fraction of the genre’s market, he somehow managed to become a breakout star with legions of female fans. Women who would normally never watch sex on camera made an exception for this young, attractive and approachable star, who emphasized his respect for consent above all else.

So when his ex-girlfriend and longtime collaborator Stoya accused him of rape in late November, it sent shockwaves throughout the industry. In the aftermath, nine other women came forward with shocking stories of physical and sexual abuse at Deen’s hands, sometimes on crowded film sets where they alleged that no one lifted a hand to help them. (A brief warning: the next paragraph describing the allegations is disturbing and could be triggering for victims of abuse. The links to further descriptions of the incidents contain extremely graphic details.)

Adult actress Nicki Blue claimed she was raped and humiliated by Deen at an industry party. Tori Lux alleged she was struck repeatedly in the face and shoved to the floor by Deen on set when she wasn’t even filming with him. Another former girlfriend, Joanna Angel, claimed that during her six-year relationship with Deen, he repeatedly abused her and attempted to drown her. Holly Jee alleged that Deen strangled her on camera until she passed out. Another accuser, Ashley Fires, told reporters that she refused to work with Deen after an attempted rape as she showered following a shoot at Kink Studios — although that didn’t stop directors from trying to pair her with him anyway. The stories go on and on, each more horrifying than the last.

James Deen, naturally, has denied all of the allegations and implied that Stoya had some ulterior motive for suddenly coming forward with her accusations. But when ten different women tell such similar stories, spanning a period of years, it’s hard to dismiss them as a simple bid for publicity or revenge. To its credit, some major players in the porn industry have responded to the wave of allegations by immediately cutting ties with the actor. Kink Studios has dropped him, and sex toy manufacturer Doc Johnson has stopped selling toys modeled after the actor. Even the women’s lifestyle site The Frisky has canceled his sex advice column.

It’s easy to pin the blame on porn studios for this series of alleged assaults — and it’s certainly true that more could have been done at the time to rein in or discipline Deen if the descriptions of assaults on set are accurate. In most of these cases, the women involved claimed they were afraid to come forward with their stories due to Deen’s popularity and influence within the industry, so it’s hard to know if the higher-ups were even aware of the issue.

Nicki Blue claims she did write about her encounter with Deen on the message boards of Kink.com, but that her post was deleted and she was banned from the site. Thinking her complaint would go nowhere, she stopped talking about the assault. This isn’t even the first time this particular company has come under fire — Kink Studios is already at the heart of four different lawsuits claiming it does not provide a safe work environment.

But placing the sole blame on the porn industry would be misguided. Yes, the women involved felt they couldn’t speak out against Deen without risking their jobs, but as the Cosby rape allegations demonstrated, that’s possible when the accused is a powerful part of any industry.

What’s really important is the fact that none of these ten women ever bothered to go to the police. Why would they? They already knew that sex workers and porn stars, by the very nature of their work, would end up being blamed for their own assaults. When porn performer Christy Mack reported nearly being killed by an ex-boyfriend last year (complete with graphic photographic proof of her injuries), online critics were quick to blame Mack’s “lifestyle” for the attack.

Even rape victims who’ve never been involved in any kind of sex work have a hard time finding justice. For proof of this you need look no further than the incredibly tragic case of Rehtaeh Parsons, who was gang-raped on film at age 15 and ended up taking her own life two years after the attack. Though two men were eventually convicted of child pornography charges following international public outage, they received only probation, no jail time. In fact, it took Parsons’ suicide to even motivate police to investigate her case.

Make no mistake: the complete lack of justice for Rehtaeh Parsons is not the exception. It is the norm. A RAINN analysis of Justice Department data found that out of every 100 alleged rapists, only three will even spend a day in jail. With odds like that, it’s no wonder 54 percent of rape victims don’t bother to go to law enforcement at all.

While the allegations against James Deen make it abundantly clear that the porn industry needs to do more to protect employees, it didn’t create the culture that pressured his accusers into remaining silent for years on its own. And the porn industry certainly didn’t construct a law enforcement system that only bothers to arrest one in four reported rapists, leaves rape kits sitting on shelves untested for years, and convicts only a quarter of those investigated.

We’re all a part of this culture, whether we want to be or not. Let’s use this case as a wake-up call and do something about it.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

96 comments

Jerome S
Jerome S11 months ago

thanks

SEND
Jim Ven
Jim V11 months ago

thanks for sharing.

SEND
Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

SEND
PJ C.
PJ C2 years ago

Kathryn Irby, that is the most ignorant and heartless thing I've ever read on Care2. And to be clear I am using ignorant in the completely lacking in knowledge or interest in finding out the facts on a level that reeks of sociopathy.

SEND
D.E.A. C.
D.E.A. C2 years ago

Who is to blame? The one who committed the assault. This piece seems more an indictment of the victims (and thus part of the problem.)

SEND
Karen Swenson
Karen Swenson2 years ago

@Kathryn Irby, I hope you realize little boys, little girls, women from here and other countries and some men are forced into the Porn Industry just like prostitution. I care about these people and I want to know about the vicious treatment. I think the ones who watch, demand and pay for this kind of thing are far worse than the performers--without them the industry would not exist.

SEND
Kathryn Irby
Past Member 2 years ago

They're all Trash anyway, so they can just keep abusing each other for all I care.

SEND
M. M.
M. M2 years ago

... trying to abstract myself from twitter sites I've jumped to from this article.... I don't have twitter account and had no idea they allowed "explicit content"...
Anyway... in the end... NO means NO! If she says no.. then the guy should back off!

SEND
Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyer2 years ago

OH, MY! This world is very sick.

SEND
Kathryn Irby
Past Member 2 years ago

How can a whore be raped? She can't! They're all base trash anyway, so perhaps they'll all put an end to one another.
"Sex work," my a-s.

SEND