How should we deal with sexual assault allegations? Ask the porn industry

Think back to this time last year. The name on everyone's mouths was Jian Ghomeshi, as woman after woman stepped.


Think back to this time last year. The name on everyone’s mouths was Jian Ghomeshi, as woman after woman stepped forward to allege that the former Q host had sexually assaulted them.

There were a lot of different horrifying stories that followed the initial reports, but the fact that the CBC had ignored a complaint from a former employee regarding Ghomeshi, likely to protect its star talent, really pissed people off. Since, there have been a lot of conversations about what to do with sexual assault allegations, whether they arise in a workplace, club or a community. Everyone from the Ontario government to [former] fans of Bill Cosby has weighed in, suggesting ways we can investigate these claims and look out for one another more effectively.

Here’s an idea: take a cue from the porn industry.

Since Sunday, three women, all who work or have worked in the adult entertainment industry, have accused porn star James Deen have sexual assault.

You may recognize Deen from a little film called The Canyons, in which he co-starred alongside an embattled Lindsay Lohan (I may be the only person on Earth who liked it). But more likely you know him from one of zillions of porn vids his squeaky clean, normal guy image is award-winning, and he’s famous for bringing a sense of normalcy to things like anal and BDSM, previously considered only for a very niche audience.

Deen has responded to the allegations, also on social media:

But swift consequences followed anyway. The Frisky announced they will no longer publish a sex advice column by Deen, and he’s resigned from the board of directors of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee. And porn companies responded by stopping future sales of Deen flicks and severing ties with the performer.

If anyone isn’t confused about issues around consent, rough sex, role play and safe words, it’s people in the porn industry. Consent is tantamount to the health of the business. Kink.com released this statement to Buzzfeed, which almost brought tears to my eyes (happy ones!):

Yes, that’s right: the industry with the world’s biggest sluts (and I say that affectionately) has a better understanding of these concepts and a smarter business sense than the CBC demonstrated back when they received a complaint about Ghomeshi (in fairness, who knows how Kink would have reacted if anyone had approached them rather than tweeting to the public).

But what if he’s innocent?

That’s for the court of law to decide, and something they really need to address by the way how to deal with sexual assault without making a plaintiff’s life a living hell.

Frisky editor Amelia McDonell-Parry writes, “As is the case with the vast majority of rape accusations, especially between intimate partners, Stoyas story of being raped by James Deen is very likely the only ‘evidence.’ … Like so many rape cases, this will very likely be a ‘he said/she said’ situation. And as I tweeted last night, today and every day, I BELIEVE WOMEN.”

If it isn’t obvious enough already: I do, too.

kater@nowtoronto.com | @katernow

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