Sexual Studies: Female Porn Stars Are Healthier Than We Think!

porn-star_1353903392_540x540Every Saturday, The CSPH highlights news or recent research in the field of human sexuality. This week we’re looking at a study that surveyed a group of pornographic actresses and found that they have higher-than-average self-esteem, more enjoyable sex lives, better body image, and more positive outlooks on life than the average people.
.
Demographics/methodology
.
The study, published in the Journal of Sex Research, followed a team of investigators, led by Shippensburg University psychologist James D. Griffith, who surveyed 177 porn actresses on “a variety of behavioral, social, and psychological dimensions;” namely: demographic information (age, ethnicity, etc.), sexual behaviors and attitudes, self-esteem, quality of life, and drug use. Relying on self-reported survey responses from pornographic actresses, Griffith’s team interviewed performers ranging from 18 to 50 years of age, while the average length of time in the industry for performers was 3.5 years. Self-esteem, quality of life, and drug use were surveyed using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale, and the TCU drug screen. Sexual and behavioral attitudes were assessed with a series of questions such as “How many different sexual partners have you had during the past 12 months?” and “What was the age of the first time you had sexual intercourse?” The porn actresses’ self-reports were then compared to those collected from a sample of women matched according to age, ethnicity, and marital status.
.
What did it find?
.
In the publication of their study, Griffith and his colleagues highlight their major findings: porn actresses were more likely to identify as bisexual, had their first sexual encounters at an earlier age, had more sexual partners, were more concerned about contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and enjoyed sex more than the matched sample. Additionally, the porn actresses were found to have higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction, and spirituality compared to the matched group.  Contradicting the widely held belief that female porn actresses share a history of sexual abuse (commonly known as the “Damaged Goods Hypothesis”), the researchers found that the actresses’ reports and the matched groups’ reports showed no major differences.
.
Strengths and Weaknesses
.
Griffith and his team set out to debunk the assumption that pornographic actresses are more troubled or unstable than the average person. “Some descriptions of actresses in pornography have included attributes such as drug addiction, homelessness, poverty, desperation, being pimped out, and being victims of sexual abuse,” write the researchers. “Some have made extreme assertions, such as claiming that all women in pornography were sexually abused as children.” Because no credible study had actually investigated this issue, Griffith and his colleagues claim that these assumptions regarding the attributes of pornography actresses lack support. “Perhaps this study can provide some information that can be used to make informed decisions regarding porn actresses, rather than rely on stereotypes from sources lacking empirical data,” states Griffith.
.
While this study does work to combat unfair stereotypes and provides evidence that some women in the porn industry not only enjoy their profession, but also thrive in this lifestyle, the lack of research on women in the porn industry makes Griffith’s study susceptible to increased scrutiny. On one hand, notes Cynthia Graham, senior lecturer in health psychology at Southampton University, that even though this study has its limitations, it “is one of very few that has included matched controls.”
.
At the same time, feminist commentator Dawn Foster makes the point that the study’s findings could present the lives of adult entertainers in an incomplete, and therefore inaccurate, light: “Women who are successful and in control of their careers in one pocket don’t speak for women in the less scrutinized parts.” The study also excludes male pornography actors and can therefore not be generalized to the entire industry. Also, the fact that the researchers found that female performers were more likely to have used ten different types of illegal drugs in their lifetime compared to the comparison group indicates that it is possible certain risks come with the territory of working in the porn industry.
.
Conclusions
.
However, this study can be seen as a victory for the adult entertainment industry in that it found no evidence to support the widely accepted assumption that actresses involved in the porn industry come from abusive and desperate backgrounds and are less psychologically healthy compared to average women. Because it is the first investigation of its kind, more research needs to be done in order to more confidently support Griffith’s conclusions. Regardless, taking a closer look at such a taboo and criticized industry as porn may help bring more awareness and acceptance to the individuals who make it their profession.
.
To read more about this study, please click here.
.
The researchers’ findings are also published in the Journal of Sex Research.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Email Tumblr Stumbleupon Digg Reddit

Speak Your Mind

*


*