Pressure to stand out, to be respected, to be yourself and be proud, to make money and establish a good career…the list goes on and on as to the pressures that we put on ourselves and the pressures that we feel from society. One of the biggest pressures many people face is to have a career that is “respectable” in the eyes of others; the concept that somehow our worth as a person is valued by what we do for money or work.
One of the most highly criticized professions and one that typically does not fit the mold is exchanging sex for money. It is common that people are disrespected, demoralized and demeaned for choosing sex work as a job. One could say this is due to aspects of religion infiltrating the way people think of sex, and convincing them that it is wrong, unless procreating. Otherwise, you should be cast aside for using sex as a way to make money. However, it is not uncommon to hear the same kind of bashing from non-religious folks.
Due to rampant bashing and disrespect, it is not surprising how some people who work in the sex industry struggle with seeing value in their work. Yes, one could argue, “Well we shouldn’t allow what others think to affect how we feel about ourselves,” however, we all know that in some way with enough time, all those judgments do end up having an adverse effect in some way or another. It takes a lot of courage to put one’s sexuality out in the open and to be proud of it. It takes strength to not be broken down by negative comments about how you could look better or how your sexual composure is a turn off to some.
In the past year there have been several porn stars that have passed for different reasons. More recently, Arpad Miklos’ death has again raised the question in many as to what may be contributing to the amount of deaths amongst gay porn stars. Nobody will ever really know the reason or reasons why somebody chooses to take their life, whether it is done passively or actively. We can, however, respectfully speculate on some possible reasons that may have influenced this decision.
Men who have sex with men and choose to become porn actors in the sex industry deal with a large amount of scrutiny from the LGBT community and society at large. Some place them as role models or sexual ideals, while others demonize them for spreading the stereotype that gay men are only about sex, and for choosing sex work as a career. Lately, the economy has greatly affected porn actors’ pay rates and their ability to make a living, thereby increasing their financial stress and instability. The stigma of working in the sex industry, along with managing general mental health issues and job transitions due to lack of work within porn, can bring on circumstantial depression for some folks who were once stars. Here again comes the pressure…the pressure to somehow make it work despite all barriers that are present. Perhaps these could all be contributing factors leading someone to feel alone and with limited options.
We live in a society that values your worth by what you do for work. So if you don’t fit the mold of what is respectable, then you’re not allowed to feel worthy of yourself. Changing how the mass majority views sex work is a tall order, but changing the availability for health benefits is more achievable in the short term. What would it be like if sex work was respected and not demonized? What if sex workers who provide escort services were able to work through a company that provides physical safety, health care and mental health support? What if a porn company could provide its models with career transition assistance along with physical and mental health care?
People who work in the sex industry deserve the same amount of deference as any one else. The amount of people that watch pornography seems to be skyrocketing, so there is an obvious increasing demand for it. Yet, once your orgasm is over from watching a porn clip, then suddenly the people that provided you with the opportunity to be visually stimulated and have a moment of stress relief, are no longer valued as important enough to be respected?