Have you heard—female porn stars have low self-esteem, have all been sexually abused, have drug addictions and live in desperation and poverty? Wrong. These common misconceptions about women in pornography have been put to bed due to a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research by researchers at Shippensburg University, the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation and Texas Woman’s University.
To challenge these long-held stereotypes, the study compared “average women” to 177 female actresses between the ages of 18 to 50 that have been paid to work in at least one adult film; their average career length was 3.5 years. Of these sample women, 44% were single and over a third were in committed relationships. All the women were matched concerning age, marital status and ethnicity for better accuracy in the results.
The study reports that there is no evidence proving that female adult performers fit into the “damaged goods hypothesis,” a term often used to condemn the porn industry and those involved in it. In fact, the researchers have discovered that actresses have higher self-esteem and body image, greater spirituality and positivity levels and better quality of life. Overall, they are actually psychologically healthier than many women.
It was indicated in a study, however, that porn actresses had sex at an earlier age (15 years old, compared to 17 years old), accumulated more sexual partners, identified as being bisexual more often, enjoyed sex more than the “average women,” but were also more concerned about contracted STIs. No differences were found regarding sexual abuse in childhood, but female performers were more likely to use 10 different types of drugs than their counterparts.
It is important to note that the study doesn’t generalize all porn stars. While many actresses feel in control and confident due to their roles in adult films, others may not feel this way.