August 18, 2013
Let me explain: In addition to being a porn star and a writer, I regularly give talks on sexuality, pornography, and culture. In late 2012, a university near Boston expressed interest in hiring me for a lecture. During negotiations, however, my contact—the director of the campus LGBT organization—suddenly turned from enthusiastic to hesitant. He’d spoken to a colleague who oversaw health education for the school, and she’d offered the following admonition: “Tell [Conner] to read Linda Lovelace’s book Ordeal … about the sexual enslavement and ‘pimping’ of women in the porn industry. Until that is understood and addressed by this multi-billion dollar industry, it is difficult to give it any voice.”
“We at least want to feel comfortable in that we’re pretty much on the same page,” the director added in an email, “with the people we bring in, in terms of educational safety issues. I’m sure you can appreciate that.”
I assured him that I was well aware of the feminist critiques (and defenses of) porn and that I was happy to engage in discussions with students about them. More to the point, as a working porn actor, I’ve appeared in around 150 adult films, so I knew that I had more knowledge about the porn world than could be guessed at from a book. But none of those qualifications, it seemed, mattered as much as Linda Lovelace’s shadow. My experience, I was being told—indeed, the experience of everyone in porn—was just like hers. The invitation was withdrawn.
Now you know how all kinds of folks, from all kinds of industries, fare when their learned experience conflicts with academic dogma.