One of the common mostly-false slams against porn in this era of globalisation is that the performers are mostly coerced sex slaves, or at least impoverished scared young girls with few options. (I’m not making this up as a straw man argument; see, e.g., the Biting Beaver (her term): “You CANNOT know if the girl you are masturbating to is, in reality, a sexual slave from Austria who has a gun pointed at her head just off camera.“)

Yeah. And you cannot know that the bottle of salad dressing you pour on your salad isn’t full of stale unpasteurized jizz from bored wanking food factory workers, either. But that doesn’t make it likely, or stop you from eating creamy salads. Why not? Because of branding. If you worry about funky jizz in your dressing, you buy a reputable brand from a company you trust, one that’s got white-coated vat inspectors and security cams all over the factory floor. And, if you really worry, you do research. You get a tour of the factory, or (more likely) read the article in Consumer Reports by the reporter who worked there for three days undercover. The point is, you check into it a little bit.

This is perfectly possible with porn. By way of local example, these issues came up in a peripheral way in this post about real sex in BDSM porn, where a couple of readers suggested in the comments that making such porn was degrading and unsafe for the models, only to be confronted by other readers who were able to vouch for the porn company in question based on personal acquaintance with the models and producers.

And that’s how you check out your porn brand. Research. You look for accounts (which are all over the web, since many models have blogs) of what it’s like to work for a particular porn company, how they treat their people, how the sets are run, whatever you’re worried about. Of course you can’t disprove sensationalist claims about porn factories full of enslaved Eastern European beauties this way — folks who want to cling to that fantasy will continue to do so, brandishing their “news” stories from The Weekly World News, National Enquirer, and Reader’s Digest — but you can satisfy yourself, along with any other reasonable people who might be curious, that the porn you buy is sex slave free.

To pick another flamboyantly outrageous example, how about the notoriously severe spanking and caning DVDs produced by Lupus Pictures? They are often cited as an example of a company that must abuse and exploit its models, because what right-thinking innocent girl would voluntarily consent to an ass-whipping that leaves her in tears with flaming red welts on her bottom? (Short answer: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreampt of in your philosophy.)

Here are couple of a relatively mild screen capture samples so we know what we are talking about, courtesy of Lupus Spanking (where Lupus Pictures movies are available for download). Click here if you need to see the notorious welts:

grimacing girl getting paddled

crying girl getting a belt spanking

And now some samples from an article by and an interview with Niki Flynn, who went to Prague to make a movie with these “evil werewolves from the East”. From the article (link broke awhile ago, see this .txt mirror):

I never thought of myself as a girl who could survive a Lupus-style caning. I cringe and wince when I watch the films and say, “There’s no way I could take that!” I’d heard the internet rumours, of course — about the innocent, impoverished Czech girls who are seduced by the money into being abused by the evil werewolves from the East. But I’d look at the “behind-the-scenes” pictures on the website and see everyone having a good time, laughing and horsing around, even after the canings. So the rumours never seemed to have any substance. Besides, the same girls turn up again and again to do films; they clearly know what to expect.

The thing that impressed me most of all was the consummate professionalism of everyone involved. This was not a group of pornographers making dirty pictures, nor was it a cruel band of misogynists delighting in taking advantage of girls who couldn’t say no. This was a real film crew working on a real film. In addition to the director, producer, script supervisor, makeup artist, properties and wardrobe mistress, caterer, cameramen, boom operator, still photographer, actors and (ahem) stunt girls, there were people on hand to offer us refreshments, comfort or anything else we needed.

Did it hurt? Of course. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely not. Do I regret it? Not for a moment. In fact, I had the time of my life. So did William. I knew exactly what I was getting into and I did it because this is what I like. And when it was over and I lay sobbing over the desk, I felt what mountain climbers must feel when they reach the peak. I was so high on the feeling of accomplishment and so lost in the roleplay that I nearly wished I could have some more! And when I look at the marks now I have a sense of pride and achievement. I savor the marks. No one who isn’t into this can ever truly understand. Boxers and footballers suffer broken noses and concussions. No one criticizes them or calls their sport unhealthy. What we do is so much safer. It’s really a shame so many people misunderstand.

Hmm, she doesn’t sound helpless or exploited, does she?

From her interview:

David: There are many rumors about the girls who perform in Lupus productions. Some believe that they attract poor, starving, drug-addicted Eastern European Girls. Now I know that this isn’t true. Prague is often referred to as ‘The Paris of the east”. The Czech Republic is not a third world country. What myths about Lupus would you most like to dispel?

Niki: (Sigh) Yes, the famous urban legends. I think that those rumors are insulting to the girls actually. It’s true, some people think of the Czech Republic as a third world country and that the girls are all uneducated and bullied into it. Or, they have no choice because they are so desperate for money they will do anything. The truth is that the Czech Republic isn’t a third world country; it’s a middle income country that has just joined the European Union. Most of the Lupus crew are friends on the Czech BDSM scene. Some of the girls do it because they are genuinely kinky — they come back again and again. Some may do it for money, but it’s not a crust of bread. They are paid a professional rate. On the set, they are treated as professional actors. The production team at Lupus couldn’t have been more professional or more concerned for my safety — for all of the performers’ safety.

And that’s how you know that the girl in your favorite video doesn’t have an off-camera gun pointed at her head.

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