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“In This Industry, You’re No Longer Human”

Full Article Name: “In This Industry, You’re No Longer Human”: An Exploratory Study of Women’s Experiences in Pornography Production in Sweden.

Open Access: Yes


Despite being a global, billion-dollar industry, very little is known about the conditions women face within the pornography industry. The aim of this study was to explore women’s experiences in pornography production, with a particular focus on structural antecedents to entrance, coercion, and violence within the industry, as well as current needs and any barriers to exiting the industry. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with nine women with experiences in pornography production in Sweden. Participants identified young age, financial insecurity, earlier exposure to sexualized violence, and poor mental health as typical antecedents to entering the pornography industry. Once in the industry, women risk manipulation and coercion by pornographers and porn buyers, making it difficult to maintain personal boundaries. Women are regularly harassed by porn buyers who send requests to purchase specific sexualized acts online or offline. The greater a woman’s vulnerability, the more difficult it is to resist pornographer’s and porn buyer’s demands. Experiences in prostitution and other forms of commercial sexualized exploitation are common. A significant barrier to exiting pornography production is the distress of having one’s pornographic images remain online indefinitely. In order to exit the pornography industry and access real alternatives, participants stressed the importance of vocational training, further education and psychosocial support. This study is an important step in elucidating the situation faced by women in pornography production. Further documentation of harms and assessment of needs is warranted for policymaking and the development of effective support services for this vulnerable population.


In this study, it was found that pornographers recruit young women by deceptively advertising and promising large incomes from blogging and modelling, ‘easy money,’ and a lavish lifestyle. These false claims appeal to women in financial desperation. Some ex-porn performers who participated in the study “were survivors of sexualized abuse and other forms of violence either during childhood or by an intimate partner as a young adult.” Porn performers, too, often reported pre-existing mental health problems, including trauma, anxiety, depression, dissociation, panic attacks, suicidal ideation, low self-esteem, and the need for affirmation. Pornographers often use threats, ignore contracts, and fail to disclose what will happen during filming. Performers are also often harassed and abused by their ‘fans,’ and frequently feel ‘trapped’ in the industry.



Donevan, M. (2021) “In This Industry, You’re No Longer Human”: An Exploratory Study of Women’s Experiences in Pornography Production in Sweden. Dignity: A Journal of Analysis of Exploitation and Violence, 6(3), Article 1.


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