Study: Female porn performers healthy, have positive body image

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Sex Research has put to rest the perception that female porn stars have low self-esteem, have been sexually abused as children and are less psychologically healthy compared with other women.

The study is Pornography Actresses: An Assessment of the Damaged Goods Hypothesis (US National Library of Medicine; National Institutes of Health).

It found no evidence to support the “damaged goods hypothesis” that actresses involved in the porn industry come from abusive backgrounds. Rather, the researchers found the women have higher self-esteem, a better quality of life and body image, and are more positive, with greater levels of spirituality.

This runs contrary to one of the central arguments made by anti-porn feminists and anti-porn religious campaigners alike – that women who perform in porn do so because they have low self-esteem, do not value themselves as people – and the core assumption held by many that women in porn were sexually abused as children.

Nope. Now you can show anyone who perpetuates this myth the data. Here’s the abstract:

The damaged goods hypothesis posits that female performers in the adult entertainment industry have higher rates of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), psychological problems, and drug use compared to the typical woman. The present study compared the self-reports of 177 porn actresses to a sample of women matched on age, ethnicity, and marital status. Comparisons were conducted on sexual behaviors and attitudes, self-esteem, quality of life, and drug use.

Porn actresses were more likely to identify as bisexual, first had sex at an earlier age, had more sexual partners, were more concerned about contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), and enjoyed sex more than the matched sample, although there were no differences in incidence of CSA.

In terms of psychological characteristics, porn actresses had higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction, and spirituality compared to the matched group.

Last, female performers were more likely to have ever used 10 different types of drugs compared to the comparison group. A discriminant function analysis was able to correctly classify 83% of the participants concerning whether they were a porn actress or member of the matched sample. These findings did not provide support for the damaged goods hypothesis.

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About violet

Violet Blue (tinynibbles.com) is a Forbes "Web Celeb," a high-profile tech personality and one of Wired's "Faces of Innovation." She is regarded as the foremost expert in the field of sex and technology, a sex-positive pundit in mainstream media (MacLife, The Oprah Winfrey Show, others) and is regularly interviewed, quoted and featured prominently by major media outlets. Violet has many award-winning, best selling books; her book The Smart Girl's Guide to Porn is featured on Oprah's website. She was the notorious sex columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. She headlines at conferences ranging from ETech, LeWeb and SXSW: Interactive, to Google Tech Talks at Google, Inc. The London Times named Blue one of the 40 bloggers who really count (2010). Violet Blue is in no way associated with the unauthorized use of her name (or likeness) and registered trademark in pornographic films.
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One Response to Study: Female porn performers healthy, have positive body image

  1. Grim says:

    It’s weird to think that this is the case after so long being told otherwise. It’s also strange to observe that porn, more so than say – fashion – has a much healthier variety of body types, skin colour and other factors represented.

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