b. Personal Background

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
2

Along with their youth, models in sexually explicit media seem to share troubled or at least ambivalent personal backgrounds. Although many described or implied unhappy experiences during childhood, we are not able to say with scientific certainty whether their family backgrounds were worse or better than "normal."[974] One model recently declared before a Senate subcommittee that it is a "myth" that models have "unhappy childhoods."[975]

Despite this claim, many other models have painted a drastically different picture of their families-broken marriages,[976] early parental death,[977] and intense family conflict.[978] Many-including the model who denied the "myth" of unhappy childhoods reported having suffered early sexual abuse.[978] Professor Russell, moreover, has found a "highly statistically significant relationship between incestuous abuse and being asked to pose for pornography."[980] In her study she found that "girls and women who are being asked to pose for pornography ... are those who have already been seriously sexually abused by a relative."[981] Sketchy as the evidence is, we are struck by the relative rarity in the material and testimony we have studied of claims regarding positive features of families of models.[982] If anything, the balance of the evidence suggests that models have typically grown up in circumstances of parental deprivation, abuse, or both.[983]

Notes

  1. Thus Professor Russell in her study found no significant difference in measures of "social class" between women who were asked to pose for pornography and those who were not. Houston Hearing, Vol. I, Diana Russell. Unfortunately, her study did not determine which respondents had actually agreed to pose, so provides only suggestive evidence regarding that subgroup.
  2. Effect of Pornography on Women, Children, Hearings before the Subcomm. on juvenile justice, Comm. on the judiciary, U.S. Senate, 98th Cong., 2d Sess., (1984), p. 315. (Statement of Veronica Vera) ("I came from a very loving family. That core of love has always been my strength.") (hereinafter cited as 1984 Senate Hearing.)
  3. Statement of Valerie Heller (Washington, D.C.); Lisa (Washington, D.C.); Jeff (Washington, D.C.); Getting Down with Candida Royalle  Forum, (April 1986), pp. 42, 45. From Cheerleader to Smut Star, Adult Video, (April 1986), pp. 8-9. (interview with Ali Moore) (hereinafter "Ali Moore Interview"); Christy Canyon, Best of Erotic X-Rated Film Guide, p. 24(no.8).
  4. Amber Lynn: Porn's Busiest Beaver, Hustler,(April 1986), pp. 24, 30.
  5. 1984 Senate Hearing, supra note 975, p. 1064. (Testimony of Linda Marchiano).
  6. Vera, "Beyond Kink." Puritan, copy of article submitted with letter of V. Vera dated February 8, 1986, to Commission (abuse by Stranger); Statement of Jeff (Washington, D.C.) (babysitter); Lisa (Washington, D.C.) (uncle); Valerie Heller (Washington) (stepfather and stepbrothers); Lederer interview, supra note 969, pp. 57-58; See also, Statement of George (Los Angeles) (exposure by father to hard core pornography during childhood and early teens, considered by witness to have been major contributing influence in decision to perform in such material). Joanna  Storm, X-Rated Cinema, (May 1986), p. 63 ("I was a real little nympho until I was about eighteen. I got tired of every man and his brother making a pass at me."); Interview with Lynn Ann Wilson, Adult Cinema 64(Vol. 5, No. 2) (1986) (". . . any orgies that even went on were while I was living at home. At the tender age of 16:' Id. p. 68.); Ali Moore Interview, supra note 976, p. 54 ("I had a rough childhood. Some things I'd rather not discuss, and it left me kind of gun shy when it comes to sex.")
  7. Houston Hearing, Vol. I, Diana Russell, p. 3101.
  8. Id., p. 310M. In Professor Russell's view, men seeking to make pornography are adept at selecting previously victimized women. Id.
  9. Of the models who testified before us, or otherwise have discussed their past publicly, only a handful even refer to their families except to describe such problems as divorce, conflict or abuse. Compare, Statement of Dottie Meyer ("My parents raised me in a happy, healthy home"); and testimony of Veronica Vera ,supra note 975; with text to notes 976-979. Many, however, have given interviews or testimony without any reference at all to their families; thus we do not know what they would say about their upbringing. That so high a number were involved with explicit sex modeling by their late teens certainly does not suggest to us that their silence should be construed as evidence of a happy childhood and adolescence. See note 979 supra.
  10. We note as well the similarity of the backgrounds of many of these models to those of prostitutes. See, e.g., Silbert & Pines, Early Sexual Exploitation as an Influence in Prostitution, 28 Social Work 285(1983) (in sample of 200 current and former female prostitutes 60 per cent had been sexually abused as juveniles); Silbert & Pines, Entrance into Prostitution, 13 Youth & Society, (1982), p. 471, (in same sample only half came from two-parent homes, Id., p. 475; only nineteen per cent and thirty-two percent had a "positive relationship" with, respectively, their fathers and their mothers. Id., p. 480.