Chat Corner: Thoughts on Netflix’s “Hot Girls Wanted” and Sex Work
Sebastian, Angie, and Sarah discuss pornography, prostitution, and the new Netflix documentary Hot Girls Wanted, about the amateur porn industry. The conversation is edited and compiled.
SEBASTIAN: Chris Hedges on prostitution:
“If we accept prostitution as legal, as Germany has done, as permissible in a civil society, we will take one more collective step toward the global plantation being built by the powerful. The fight against prostitution is the fight against a dehumanizing neoliberalism that begins, but will not end, with the subjugation of impoverished girls and women.”
SEBASTIAN: All this man knows is fire and brimstone. Would be interested in hearing your responses to this article, he lays out a damning case against legal prostitution. Also, Hedges employs his favorite technique: interview one person for like 10,000 words, present perspective as truth.
ANGIE: Well the plural of anecdote is data…
ANGIE: Have any of you watched the new Netflix documentary Hot Girls Wanted? It is a documentary about the amateur porn industry.
SEBASTIAN: I didn’t watch it but I read about it on Reddit. Lots of people feeling bad about their pornography habits in that thread.
ANGIE: It made me realize there needs to be more regulations on porn. It is a taboo subject, so government stays away from it.
SEBASTIAN: Eh, I’m less confident in government regulation.
ANGIE: California instituted condoms in their porn industry, so the amateur porn industry picked up and moved to Miami, Florida. Well right now it is anarchy. The only regulations on porn is age. It seems ridiculous to me that prostitution is completely illegal with no exceptions and porn is legal with no restrictions.
SEBASTIAN: I agree. I think both should be legal with commonsense restrictions that prevent exploitation and abuse and deter trafficking. The reason for my lack of confidence is that regulation, as actually implemented, can be mind-numbingly dumb. Condoms are a commonsense regulation for pornography, eye wear is not (in most cases). But that didn’t stop California from trying to apply unnecessary OSHA rules.
ANGIE: So one commonsense regulation (or not government regulated, but instituted by the industry) is STD testing. However, contraception is looked down upon. Most of the women interviewed in Hot Girls Wanted weren’t even on any sort of birth control. The only kind of contraception they used was Plan B, which they paid for out of their own pocket. Girls get paid more for (lack of a better word) “cream pies”. Without contraception, that is just putting your employees at risk.
SEBASTIAN: Yeah, I’m not gonna defend that. That is terrible… and gross. Contraception should be available widely and mandatory.
ANGIE: Where is OSHA?!
SARAH: There are so many forms of birth control that aren’t seen as well. I think it’s an old excuse to get out of providing birth control for these workers. Use the IUD, the patch, the ring.
ANGIE: Most of the amateur porn actors can’t be an amateur porn actor for very long. Job security isn’t very strong. The problem with not having regulations is if an actor doesn’t want to participate in a shoot, there are more girls right behind (metaphorically of course), ready to do that role instead.
SEBASTIAN: I mean, thats like 90 percent of jobs though.
SARAH: Welcome to the millennial generation.
ANGIE: You can’t be an amateur porn actor forever. At some point you are no longer amateur.
ANGIE: My point is, all of these girls want to be successful. They want to make the jump to professional porn star so they will do anything, even if that is put their body as risk.
SEBASTIAN: What is your moral stance on the production and viewing of pornography? Are you morally bothered by it?
ANGIE: No, not at all. I have nothing against the production or viewing of pornography. But I am apprehensive of an industry that doesn’t take care of half of its employees. Criminalizing it in anyway will just make the conditions worse. We can’t be afraid of addressing regulations within pornography though. Otherwise It will allow more people to take advantage of women and men. It will allow the wrong people to take advantage of participants– people only interested in making quick money.
SEBASTIAN: The woman interviewed in the Hedges article argues that sex work and exploitation (at least in the context of prostitution) are inseparable, and she cites the experience of the Netherlands and Germany.
SEBASTIAN: Those countries created legal regimes and saw trafficking of women and girls increase. So I can understand how, in that context, consuming or producing pornography is a moral wrong if its production cannot be fully extricated from exploitation.
ANGIE: But farming and factory work also lead to human trafficking. Or at least a large part of men being trafficked are for both of these industries. This is where my big-government side comes out, regulation. Require pornography and prostitution to be treated like every other employment in the United States.
ANGIE: This documentary made me think. Isn’t that what it is supposed to do? It made me think about something I wasn’t thinking about the day before.
SEBASTIAN: Thinking is for suckers.