Why Did Sasha Grey Exit Pornography?

by smash

-Sasha Grey-

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.

24 Comments to “Why Did Sasha Grey Exit Pornography?”

  1. thanks smash! it is definitely telling that the shelf life for your average female porn star is so short. if it was so great and not-harmful, why not just keep doing it forever? why do so many of them not last even a year or 2 or 5?

    porn is not compatible with life, when you are female. male-centric sexuality is not compatible with life, when you are female. and mens insistence on both only proves that they are death-fetishists and necrophiliacs. men kill women, and when they dont kill us outright, they kill our creativity, and definitely our sexuality. i would say that men kill what they claim to love, if i thought most of them bothered lying about loving women anymore. they dont. the hatred is becoming more and more obvious, and much of this comes through in porn.

  2. 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.

    That would be a mission impossible I think. Any future intimate partner is likely to have seen her porn films, and want her to do for him, what he saw her doing with the dudes on film. And you just know in order to get her to do that, he will say something like “if you really loved me, you would do it, after all you did it with some stranger dude…” I really wish I had £1 for every time some dude uttered “if you really loved me you’d…”. I’d be frickin rich.

    Crossover to mainstream Hollywood, extremely unlikely. Although many of the male crew work both in mainstream film and porn, crossover is yet to be achieved by any female actor. In fact, it usually goes the other way – they cannot get mainstream parts, so the do porn in order to get money whilst they await the ‘big break’.

  3. I hope she is able to recover from her experiences. Although I am not impressed with hocking the porn industry impressionable young girls and women. Or misrepresenting the porn industry.

    I wish she would speak out about her experiences, even though she’d be dismisssed as having ‘Linda Boreman sydrome’, which is obviously pure bullshit.

  4. Thank you Smash for succinctly proving – yes proving pornography harms women and is not ’empowering’ as porn apologists claim. Sadly Sasha Grey cannot bring herself to acknowledge she was subjected to horrific male sexual violence during her brief time working as a supposedly ‘porn star.’

    Unfortunately the general reader will not recognise the double talk Grey has engaged in but will simply accept at face value Grey’s claims ‘she enjoyed her time in the porn industry.’ Furthermore her double talk will be used to reinforce men’s claims ‘porn is harmless male fantasy.’ Much will be made of her decision to leave porn for more lucrative employment and her experiences will be dismissed as ‘just an unfortunate incident’ because it is essential claims pornography industry is ’empowering to women’ must not be debunked.

    However, having an awareness of how pornography industry and its apologists always twist women’s realities into lies is a vital tool in our never-ending fight against the male created pornography industry and how this industry justifies and naturalises (sic) male domination over all women.

  5. Hecuba, due to the Hollywood/porn crossover (crew, directors etc), of course she will say “enjoyed my time in it”. It is an industry of “who you know” more than anything. She might speak out eventually, if/when the Hollywood career does not materialise.

  6. Gail DInes can’t be quoted enough. She is brilliant.
    And yes, *quelle* *surprise*! at the fact that a woman abandoned porn once a better opportunity presented itself.
    Porn pays well, that’s the bottom line. ANd women are discriminated against on purpose in the workplace so that will always be plenty of them available for porn. BUt they’re still not paid as well as the directors and middle-men! Women in porn should remember that!!!

  7. Thanks all. The source link for the claim that she does “nearly all the acts available in pornography” is not working. Here is the source link I meant to use http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYs2YfNlRBg#t=04m44s It’s her manager saying she does “pretty much everything they do in this business”.

    If you click on some of the source links, you’ll see a smart woman with a flat affect who seems very broken. It was difficult to write this article, because I feel so sad that the industry does this to women.

  8. Dave’s right about cross-over in the industry.

    Traci Lords was attempting to go “legit” back in the early 90s when I worked with her on a film in which she was cast as *The French Maid* (surprise!) in what ended up being a terrible, straight-to-video comedy. Her comedic timing is fabulous, by the way.

    She would show up every day and be forced to endure the disgusting questions and *jokes* the crew had for her and, of course, she knew what they were saying behind her back. They brought their copies of her porn videos and still spreads to the set and would try to get her to autograph them. It was sickening and absolutely demoralizing.

  9. i remember when roseanne barr tried to give traci lords a chance in the mainstream too. it didnt take. and yes, she was funny and a good actor. she was also cast as the dumb blonde, the temptress/slut and they did a coda/piece at the end where roseanne, jackie and traci lords character were “sexxxay waitresses” porn actors on a porn set and end up servicing one of the customers at the diner. or something, i dont remember.

    as for sasha’s crossover, well, here shes trying to do “public service” which was volunteer and unpaid, last time i checked. and she cannot escape her “past” even though its been 2 years since she left. i hope she saved her money….


  10. didnt they end up getting leon to clean the grease traps naked or something? i dont remember. i do remember the sexxxay waitresses porn thing, and that there was a twist at the end. i guess it was supposed to be ironic or empowering or something, i dont know.

  11. Marilyn Chambers also tried to have a career outside of porn: She was hired for a TV advert but it was pulled off the air after it was revealed that she had been a famous porn performer. She also starred in David Cronenberg’s “Rabid” as a women with a phallus-like stinger within her armpit which she uses to feed on the blood of men who then turn into zombies and infect others. The movie ends with a shot of her lifeless body beig picked up by a garbage truck. Considering her porn “career” the movie could not be any less creepy.

    She also seemed to have changed her opinion about porn:

    “I have to say that the adult films have been a total pleasure,” she said. “They were like getting paid to live out my greatest fantasies. The rest of the stuff … sometimes got to be a real grind.” (http://www.lvrj.com/news/breaking_news/42937007.html)

    “In a 2004 interview, Chambers said “My advice to somebody who wants to go into adult films is: Absolutely not! It’s heart-breaking. It leaves you kind of empty. So have a day job and don’t quit it”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marilyn_Chambers)

    That movie business idea didn’t even end up being incredibly lucrative for Jenna Jameson, did it? She probably earns her income mainly through working her porn star image.

  12. Thanks ibp for the comparison between the two Chambers quotes.

    It is interesting that Grey has been out of porn for two years, and is now able to allude to/admit that the pleasure in the films is faked. The women of the View ask her,

    “How much of it is real, and how much of it is acting? Tell us.”

    “Like 99% right?”

    Grey nods, smiles, and says, “Oh, I mean, yeah, you know, yeah.”

    Now Grey didn’t exactly say, “I faked it!”. But we can tell just by watching the clip that she is agreeing that she faked pleasure. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5f8k54IY4kg#t=04m38s

    I wonder how much more honest she will be in a few years. Of course, it all depends on if she can find alternate employment.

    Also, why does Barbara Walters stifle this line of conversation?

  13. thanks for this post, smash. Good lord, she’s only 21. If i were a praying woman, i’d pray for her to find peace. I’m not really a praying person, though. oh well, step up the activism then, I guess… Smash, it must have been difficult to write this. The cruelty this young woman endured is horrifying and enraging.

  14. Thanks ER. It was actually very difficult to write. I feel so sad that she has had to absorb so much hatred and abuse in her young life. I also hope that she finds peace.

    Do click the links if you have time.

  15. Smash, thank you for this true-life example of how men abusing, degrading and hating women in pornography is culturally normalized to require appeasement by women leaving the “industry” and still trying to please the captors/slave masters/colonizers of our bodies. Compassion for women is in order, and sadness (you’re so right) that pornography victims absorb so much hatred and abuse from men but still believe they must keep smiling as if it never hurt.

    Right now I’m living in a politically progressive part of CA (as least in patriarchal, male-defined terms “progressive”) and recently I’ve had conversations with younger, hetero-normative women (in their 20’s & 30’s) who are starting to find offensive the cruel tonality they hear in their male peers’ voices on topics about women, particularly when there’s a group of men. These younger women blame internet pornography.

    Also, these younger women “get it” that a guy interested just in seeing female nakedness or so-called “normal” PIV one-on-one male-on-female behavior are getting unsolicited online pop-ups to direct them away into gang rape depiction — filmed with group-male so-called humor (“hahahaha — what we told her is the bathroom door for her cleanup is really the outlet to the street”) in the derisive turning out of sexually used, unclothed women onto the public street after the gang raping — and much worse.

    It’s enough to make me wish the separatist women’s land movements for WBW open-land sanctuary as begun in the ’60’s and ’70’s had succeeded. (Patriarchy’s changing property tax and code requirements, etc., helped to defeat those movements. Not too surprising.) Even abused elephants get a sanctuary of their own in the USA. But not us.

  16. Smash, I am so appreciative of the amount of compassion you show for Grey in your writing. I doubt she will ever say what her experiences in the underworld of the filmed rape industry were really like, in large part because her name will always be connected to it.

    I had no idea she was only 21, either. I know she has been an outspoken supporter of the filmed rape industry, but…gosh…that’s so young.

  17. She’s 23 now, 21 when she decided she’d had enough. 3 whole years in the industry. She’s left the INDUSTRY, not just a certain shitty job or a particularly bad employer. This reveals a lot I think. This doesn’t happen the same way in other industries. Porn is not compatible with life for women, and its not sustainable.

  18. Tragic that womon continue to defend the ‘rape industry’, despite how in the long term it will harm them big time…..

    All this nonsense about ‘living out my greatest fantasies’, via porno. No not womons greatest fantasies here just the MENZ…..

  19. Ms. Grey had a starring role on an HBO show “the entourage” where she played herself, basically. She was the girlfriend of the main character and the show used her real life role as a way to discuss whether one should “date a porn star.” I think this is what led her to leave the industry, she is dabbling in Hollywood roles and for her sake, I hope she makes it.

    I don’t think anyone “chooses” porn as their lifetime goal or dream, it is used more as a stepping stone to what is really wanted. Too bad women trying to make it in Hollywood have to use porn as an option to get their foot in the door. I disagree with porn to the deepest depths, but I would never ostracize the women who make those choices.

  20. Why? Why? Why? What did we ever do to you?

By Utopia Bold


In every culture you control, from the distant past to the present day, in all parts of the world-you have hated us.

    Why do you kidnap girls and women and torture them to death in Juarez to make your twisted snuff porn?
    Why are you sexually aroused by torturing and killing us?
    Why have you decided we were your property?
    Why did you kill our priestesses and destroy the temples where we worshipped the Goddess?
    Why have you thought of the idea of breaking our ankles to keep us from running away? 
Why have you expected us to work without pay?
    Why have you forced us to live under house arrest and to cover our bodies from head to toe?
Why did you bind our feet and cripple us for life in China for 1,000 years? Why did you force us to wear iron “chastity belts” making us unable to wash off our own excrement?
Why have you even buried us in this degrading torture device? 

    Why did you silence us with your invention “the scold’s bridle,” — an iron helmet with a piece of iron that was rammed into our bloodied mouths? 
Why did you tie us to a long pole and immerse us under water until you drowned us?

    Why do you still require mothers to mutilate the sex organs of their daughters to make us “acceptable?” 

    Why do you tell us we are inanimate objects that must pay to have our healthy bodies “sculpted” under your knives so we can fit your idea of “beauty?”
Why have your priests sanctified the battering of our precious bodies with fists and endless childbearing?
Why do you sell our daughters to brothel owners?
Why do you take our sons, and now, even our daughters and use them as weapons in your insane wars?

    Why do you deny us the right to decide whether or not to have children? 
Why do you use us in your degrading porn industry?
Why did you burn nine million of us to death as “witches” ?
Why have you sanctified child molestation with your idea of “child brides?”
    Why have you killed uncounted little girls who bled to death after you raped them? 

    Why do you rape us? 

    Why do you use your strength against us, breaking our bodies-yet believing you are not cowards?
Why have you choked, beaten, starved, humiliated and killed us? 

    Why do you continue to do so?
Why do you pay us pennies to work in your toxic factories?
Why do you burn down girl’s schools in Afghanistan?
Why do you forbid us to educate ourselves and even to learn how to read?

    Why do you think you have the right to control every aspect of our lives? 

    Why have you colonized our bodies with brute force and our minds with your dysfunctional, psychopathic religions?
Why do you pit us against each other with your “beauty” contests and treat us like prize farmed animals at the county fair?
Why do you think you have the right to judge us?
Why do you use racism to keep us from realizing we are all sisters?
Why do you hate us and control us in so many ways-mentally and physically?
Why? Why? Why? What did we ever do to you?


Source” The Women’s History of the World” by Rosalind Miles 
and scriptures of the world’s major male-supremacist organized religious (organized for men).

Global religious beliefs about women
”A woman must never be free of subjugation.”— Hindu code of Manu V.
    “Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, for the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church.”—Ephesians 5:23-24.
”The body of a woman is filthy and not a vessel for the law.”— Buddha
”God formed her body to belong to a man, to have and to rear children. Let them bear children till they die of it.”— Martin Luther.

    “In pain shall you bear children, yet your urge will be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”— Genesis 3:16.
”Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. Suffer not woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man.” Timothy 2:11-15.

    “Your women are fields for you to cultivate, so go to your field as you will.”— Koran 
”Beat your woman every day. You may not know why, but she will.” —Arab proverb
”Women have weak memories, are undisciplined, impulsive and dangerous when given authority over anything.”—Catholic Church’s edict against “witches”.
”I thank thee O lord, that thou has not created me a heathen, a slave, or a woman.”— Orthodox Jewish prayer.
”A woman’s heaven is under her husband’s feet. —Bengali Proverb

    “Men are in charge of women because Allah has made one to exceed the other. —Mohammed 

    Why have you put your woman-hating filth in the mouths of your invented gods?
    Why? Is it because deep down, you are cowards who fear women?
    Why do you need your “gods” for spiritual back up?
    Why? Is it because 6,000 years of battering, rapes, torture, femicide and cultural coercion was not enough to subdue us?
 Why? Why? Are you that afraid of us?

  21. Utopia Bold- excellent! *2 thumbs up*

    I think Sasha Grey suffers from a very serious ‘mind split’, i.e. PTSD-related mental fragmentation. When you think about this woman, please don’t forget the Melissa Farley quote I posted here once:


    In order to survive the brutal violation of their flesh in the prostitution industries, womyn dissociate; they mentally diconnect from their reality (which is way too painful to admit for them) and they appear to be “enjoying” what they do, but they don’t, they really don’t.

    I remember that Sasha Grey denied having been abused as a child (like most womyn who appear in porn were) but she sounded really nervous and defensive while she was denying it (it was on the Tyra Banks show, I think), so maybe she was denying another truth.

    I definitely think she left pornstitution because she couldn’t cope with the degradation and the violence anymore.

    Great post, Smash. The fact that she asked that guy to punch her at her first shoot suggests that she was hating herself somehow. Many rape survivors (wrongfully) hate themselves and think it was all their fault (rather than their abusers’). I think that this girl must have been raped when she was really young, just like Jenna Jameson and Tracy Lords, even if this one (Grey) won’t admit it, she still was…

  22. I’ve been reading discussions of this article on a few feminist facebook sites, and so many of the responses are just so typical.

    Lots of left wing doods trying to tell everyone that feminism is about “choice” and we shouldn’t deny sascha her “agency”.
    Lots of privileged sex workers telling everyone not to “judge” their choices, as if the state of the porn and prostitution industries should be overlooked in favour of their “right” to “choose” to do what they want without being “judged” (they imagine they are being judged by the way, I think they are just narcissists who want to tell everyone their story, and for the debate to be all about them).

    There’s just so much male + white woman sex-worker privilege in the responses to articles like these. Fortunately there are a few lone voices trying to explain the radfem view (including the page owners, who are as anti-porn and prostitution as we are) but they are being outnumbered.

    If anyone is interested, the discussions are here:

  23. Thanks for sharing those links PW. I’m not surprised that many are unwilling to see the context under which pornography is “chosen” (ie patriarchy). Challenging male power and access to women is not a popular action, but it is necessary. We will keep speaking the truth.

  24. Read Robert Jensen’s book: Getting Off, Pornography and the End of masculinity & Victor Malarek The Johns: sex for sale and the men who buy it…
    Both of these books give great insight into why the idea of masculinity is embodied in our culture and to its harmful effects all in society, but…usually, the most harmful to women and children. We our contemporary culture is now known as a rape culture; glorified gang bangs, of young women, and girls seems to be okay. We need to remind ourselves that pornography (controlled prostitution) is created, produced, controlled and profited mainly by men for men. The women that participate (and I loosely refer to them as women because it seems like the majority are teenagers, which I do not consider them adults – as their brains are not fully developed to consider the consequences of their actions) do this for with an agenda, they do it for money and/or fame. They certainly would not be lured into it for purely sexual gratification. Many claim to love what they are doing, but they do this because it promotes the industry, it is self-defeating to claim otherwise. What is happening to these young women is not intimate sexual relations, which most women prefer, it is denigrating and unhealthy. The fact that a ‘porn-star’ ( and I hate using that word, because this camouflages its true nature) is used up before she is 25 years old tells people that women are sexually disposable.
    I can psychoanalyze this until I am blue in the face, so to end this before I do, pornography is not healthy for the performers (both men and women), viewers (there is research, and you can look it up for yourself, that points to addictions and anti-social issues for some), and for society at large. Pornography is no longer hidden from the masses, and so it’s nature isn’t discreet, it is mainstream; in our face 24/7. It is shaping the minds of our future generations and who knows where that will lead us as a culture. The prospects are scary.

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