Sasha Grey is an exited pornography victim who was known for participating in nearly all the degrading types of acts available in pornography. Before her retirement, she was the best-known woman in the industry besides Jenna Jameson (source Pornland by Gail Dines, p. 41). At her first shoot shortly after her 18th birthday, she asked her costar/paid rapist to punch her in the stomach. She also claims to have invented licking a toilet seat as part of a scene in pornography.
After only being in the porn industry for about three years, Ms. Grey has retired from the filmed exploitation business. But why, if the industry was so lucrative and she loved sex so much, did she retire?
As Grey said on her official announcement, she has retired because her “time as an adult film performer has expired”. That is, at 21 years old, she and old milk have a lot in common. Why is it that three years of life in the industry has taxed her so?
It could be the degrading acts that she has performed in the course of her career. Her manager states that when she came to him, she stated that she was ready to participate in all of the acts that occur in the industry. Grey has built a name for herself as “Willing to do any sex necessary to be a star.” (source Pornland p. 40). Perhaps the incidents of STIs, the scratches, bruises, and hemorrhoids, caused by the acts she engages in, or the threat of a prolapsed anus have taken their toll on Grey.
However, Grey has insisted that she enjoyed her time in the industry. She has claimed that three quarters of the time on set, she has experienced genuine orgasms, and says she is actually fighting to liberate women sexually. She claims that she has joined the industry where she experiences “self-exploration first hand, and I’m getting to do it in a sex-positive way.” She’s even gone so far as to say that her reason for entering pornography was to free herself from sexual shame, and take the stigma out of the industry.
But women in prostitution and pornography often parrot a positive message about their degradation. Indeed, it is part of a pornstituted woman’s job to maintain the illusion that she enjoys the industry. Jenna Jameson is one such pornography victim who often states that filmed rape/pornography is empowering, and that her interest in pornography sprung from her high libido (source Pornland p. 35-38). However, this message is not always consistently positive, which can lead us to questions about how authentically “empowering” they actually believe pornography to be. As Jameson says in her book:
Most girls get their first experience in gonzo films — in which they’re taken to a crappy studio apartment in Mission Hills and penetrated in every hole possible by some abusive asshole who thinks her name is Bit***. And these girls, some of whom have the potential to become major stars in the industry, go home afterward and pledge never to do it again because it was such a terrible experience. But, unfortunately, they can’t take that experience back, so they live the rest of their days in fear that their relatives, their co-workers, or their children will find out, which they inevitably do.
So, too, can we see that Grey is not always consistent in her message that she enjoyed the acts she participated in, or that filmed rape/pornography is good for women. For example, she admits that 99% of the orgasms in pornography are faked. This contradicts her earlier statement that she experienced an orgasm in 3/4 of the scenes she participated in. Further, she expresses disgust with some of the acts she had to endure. Also, she admits that she would not want to be abused the way she is in pornography by an intimate partner or in her personal life.
Sasha Grey is not so enamored with the pornstitution industry as she claims. At another time she gives the following reason for quitting pornography [italics mine]:
I got a great opportunity to be in a Steven Soderberg film and after that I changed my mind and I just decided I was going to go for that, and try something different and try something new. [...] I felt like I had accomplished what i wanted to as a performer.
Sasha Grey admits to changing her mind about pornography when she had another opportunity presented to her. She, a woman who was first exposed to pornography as an underage girl (some accounts state that she was 16, and others state she was 11), has realized that engaging in degrading, violent, pornographic acts is not for her.
In 2009, however, it was clear to at least one person that Ms. Grey was not in pornography because she loved it so much– she was planning on using it as a stepping stone to non-adult films all along.
Sasha pointedly decided to have an extreme presence to achieve entree to Hollywood,” says Nick Jarecki, executive producer of the new Mike Tyson documentary, who met with her last year about a role in another movie. “My impression of her attitude is that porn, while part of her pastiche, is ultimately a gateway to her mainstream ideas and acting career.
But this Moulin Rouge-esque fantasy is impossible for almost every pornography victim. Stories like Gray’s only serve to recruit more exceptionally young women to this damaging and dangerous industry, to be spit out when they have “expired”.
Pornography is the act of making hate to women’s bodies. Sasha Grey is a very smart woman, and I’m so glad for her sake that she has exited the pornstitution industry. However, her success has helped recruit more young women to the filmed rape victim business, for their bodies to be used just as hers was. There’s nothing progressive, or positive about that.