Porn Studies Releases Special Issue on Porn and Labor

Jul 28, 2016 5:36 PM PST

LONDON — Porn Studies, the Routledge-published scholarly journal on the effects of cultural and historical porn, has released “Porn Labor.”

The special issue is co-edited by Rebecca Sullivan, University of Calgary Professor and co-author of “Pornography: Structures, Agency and Performance,” and Jiz Lee, adult performer and producer at Pink & White Productions and editor of “Coming Out Like a Porn Star: Essays on Pornography, Protection and Privacy.”

Helmed by U.K. scholars Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith, Porn Studies is “the first dedicated, international, peer-reviewed journal to critically explore those cultural products and services designated as pornographic and their cultural, economic, historical, institutional, legal and social contexts,” with attention towards “the intersection of sexuality, gender, race, class, age and ability.”

Past issues include articles by scholars Linda Williams, Lynn Comella and Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, and works by producers and performers such as Ms. Naughty and Stoya.

Prefaced by an editorial by Smith and Attwood, and an introduction by editors Lee and Sullivan, the issue includes six articles: “Pornography as a creative industry: challenging the exceptionalist approach to pornography,” “Performing labor: ethical spectatorship and the communication of labor conditions in pornography,” “Bucking heteronormativity: Buck Angel as porn performer, producer and pedagogue,” "Doing it for free: digital labor and the fantasy of amateur online pornography," "‘A scene is just a marketing tool’: alternative income streams in porn’s gig economy" and "Producing the porn self: an introspection of the mainstream Greek porn industry."

Forum pieces are "Porn – artifice – performance – and the problem of authenticity," and "Sex/work," and book reviews include "Coming out like a porn star: essays on pornography, protection, and privacy," "Stigma and the shaping of the pornography industry" and "Pornography: structures, agency and performance."

"Like all workers, issues of self-determination, autonomy, dignity, respect, and fair compensation are paramount," Lee and Sullivan wrote in their editor introduction. "The fact that these fundamental human rights are often claimed to not apply to sex workers – either because they are undeserving or because the industry is incapable of meeting those demands – is, we argue, the worst kind of abuse."

"To me, the best research in porn studies happens when scholars and professionals work together," Sullivan wrote. "I learned so much from Jiz not just about labor practices in the porn industry, but also about my own academic standards and expectations, and how I can do better." 

"Rebecca was my academic lodestar," Lee wrote. "I was honored to be invited as a co-editor, but found the task challenging: obstacles preventing performer participation seemed inherent in research, outreach, and publication. Fortunately, Rebecca and I were able to articulate this arduous position in our introduction, and we plan to explore it further in a forthcoming issue. Regardless, this special issue exposes labor rights as a prevalent topic within the adult industry and pushes cultural conversations in a direction that prioritizes workers."

“Porn Studies Special Issue: Porn Labor” comes at a timely release as the industry's workers unite to educate California voters against November ballot Proposition 60, an initiative strong-armed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and that, in rejecting performer cooperation, proves harmful if it passes, Lee and Sullivan noted.

As Lee and Sullivan wrote: "When decisions about workers’ rights are determined in contexts that exclude the actual affected workers, then workers are placed at high risk."

“Porn Studies Special Issue: Porn Labor” can be accessed at Taylor&FrancisOnline.

Pictured: Jiz Lee

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