Alptraum told salon that her career was made possible

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purchased Fleshbot from Gawker Media and became its CEO. Alptraum told Salon that her career was made possible by internet market segmentation: much like Amazon or Hulu, Big Porn can serve different sexualities, desires, and ages, which allows women who have a keen sense for a portion of that market to prosper. Alptraum remarked, “It’s not so much of a top-down dic- tation thing any more.” The audience for straight pornography—traditionally, men expecting to watch heterosexual or girl-on-girl sex—is also changing. More women are watching. A 2012 study done by the Institut français d’opinion publique (IFOP) found that 82 percent of French women watched porn, up from 23 percent in 1992. In the United States those numbers, according to a 2013 Pew study, are far—and, as Slate ’s Amanda Hess wrote, suspiciously—lower, with 8 per- cent of women and 25 percent of men admitting to having used porn at least once. Yet the size of the female audience had still quadrupled since 2010. This provokes the question: if porn is not going away; if its produc- tion and consumption is becoming more female; if, as Candice Vadala had hoped, women in porn are gaining more independence and power, how should feminists, both within and outside the industry, be engaging with pornography? The ideological polarization of the “sex wars” continues to color the conversations we have about pornography today. Feminist pornographers agree that mainstream porn is stubbornly discriminatory, usually exploit- ative, and rarely scrutinized for abuses on the set. Although these inequali- ties are not unique to the pornography workplace, contemporary pro-porn feminists, in their zeal to defend pornography’s sex-positive potential and debunk the stereotype that all sex workers are exploited, tend to sidestep such issues. So does FSC, which primarily defends the right of performers to work in porn and has created a system of self-regulation to keep pro- ducers on the right side of the law. On the other hand, the national femi- nist organizations that opposed porn back in the 1980s continue to conduct little research on women in the industry except when they are victims of sex trafficking. Discussions of “protection” in the industry are therefore ideo- logically skewed depending on which side of the sex wars you’re on—sex workers are either “empowered” (erasing abuse in the industry or making workers hesitate to speak out) or by definition “exploited” (socially vulnera- ble, controlled by men, and unable to speak for themselves). Few advocates
110 D I S S E N T · S P R I N G 2 0 1 6 on either side are currently listening to what performers themselves have to say about the working conditions in the porn industry, and what they want and need to do their jobs without fear. Pro-porn feminists first asserted that sex work is no different from other kinds of work during the fight against the MacKinnon-Dworkin ordinance, an argument that is especially important because it then follows that the porn set, like any other workplace, should be safe, regulated, and free from discrimination. Defending the sexual workplace has broader significance, too. “The issues for women in erotic films mirror the issues of women in

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