James Deen Cover

Right around this time last year, porn star James Deen was accused of multiple reports of sexual assault, rape, and physical abuse by several well-known actors in the industry, including his former girlfriend Stoya and Teen Mom reality star, Farrah Abraham. While many brands, including Kink.com and The Frisky, made the decisions to cut ties with Deen at the end of 2015, his spokesperson Howard Bragman comments that “very little in James’ life has changed over the past year,” in an interview with the Daily Beast. And considering Deen has produced 29 adult films in 2016 and is up for 20 nominations for the AVN and XBIZ award shows, including Male Performer of the Year— it has become abundantly clear that these accusations did little to no harm to his professional reputation.

James Deen Photo 1

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Once dubbed a “feminist” porn star because of his standpoint on consent and support of women’s rights, Deen lost the title when he was first accused of sexual assault by his former girlfriend and fellow performer Stoya on Twitter. Shortly after Stoya came forward with her story, other porn actors including Tori Lux, Ashley Fires, Joanna Angel, Lily LaBeau, Amber Rayne, and reality star Farrah Abraham admitted that Deen had assaulted them as well. Deen has denounced all accusations, telling the Daily Beast that he was “completely baffled” by these allegations. Later in an interview with the Washington Post, Deen denied labeling himself as a feminist, however, he said that in pornography, “Our sex is still sex. The consent is still the same. There is just a different level of understanding,” which raises many red flags as far as his understanding of consent itself.

James Deen Photo 2

Lack of consent or a lack of understanding of consent is an issue within the pornography industry that extends beyond Deen and it highlights one of the reasons why Deen may continue to be able to produce films and received award nominations after his assaults were made public. In addition to being one of the most recognizable male porn actors in history, Deen’s defense brings to light the unspoken truth of sexual abuse of pornography actors. Regardless of working in the sex industry, porn actors still deserve full and complete consent to all of the sex acts that they participate in—onscreen or off. Being in a sexual relationship with someone, regardless of whether it is personal or just professional, does not write off consent as being mandatory for sexual activity. It can be difficult for women in the pornography industry to voice their opinions or to deny consent to certain activities because at the end of the day it could put their reputations in harm's way. Many of the women who accused Deen of sexual assault after Stoya broke the ice said that they chose to come forward later, in some cases years after the incidents took place because they worried about losing their jobs or missing out on high-paying opportunities in the future.

James Deen Photo 3

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Moving forward, it’s really important for us to be allies to sex workers and for these women to continue coming forward with their stories. Every woman, regardless of her profession, deserves to be treated with dignity, respect, and decency and the reality of the situation is that millions of women from around the world are affected by sexual assault. It’s time to stand up for justice, stand up for our fellow sisters, and keep men who do not respect consent out of what should be a safe industry for women.

Photos via @therealjamesdeen

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