When I was younger, I was bullied. Sometimes I think that it wasn’t that bad, largely because no adult seemed to care that much. But since the memory of being punched in the face till I was knocked on the floor, by a boy in my class, and the memory of having leaves stuffed into my mouth in the bushes of my school playground by girls older than me, stand out above most of my other memories from school… I’m going to assume it was kind of bad. It maybe fucked with my head a bit.
I was kind of a weirdo, a bit of a loner. I had one friend, who was just as weird and lonerish as me. We liked dinosaurs, and The Animals of Farthing Wood. We weren’t cool or fashionable, we were clever, we got very good grades and we usually had our packed lunches in Aldi carrier bags (social death). Somehow, all those things together meant I deserved to be bullied. It is probably interesting to note that the boy who punched me in the face was one of the first of my former classmates to crawl out of the wood work when I was on the front page of Pornhub, in Game of Thrones, and a Penthouse Pet. He asked to take me out, told me he was a personal trainer and that he’d always thought I was hot. Sure. We were nine last time we saw each other, so that’s weird. Maybe he forgot he punched me and picked on me? Maybe he just didn’t care.
When I moved on to secondary school, equally as clever, equally as odd and equally as uncool, I was bullied further. I went to an all girl school so the bullying was a lot more of a subtle torture. I soon realised I’m a) ugly, b) not thin enough, c) definitely not cool, and d) way too good at my work to be able to be allowed to be left alone. I started making myself throw up to get out of certain classes… largely P.E. which I never ever bought my kit to, forever hoping I would be let off, forever wrong. This was before I stopped giving a fuck about attendance and just skipping the entire day with Physical Education on completely.
Then I started cutting myself. If I’m honest, I didn’t really know why I cut myself, I just liked it. I was angry and upset, it felt good, and I had control over that feeling. The thought of suicide did cross my mind but never seriously, only in passing… like I wonder what people would say. A morbid fascination with how sorry people would be if I was gone, rather then a true desire to die, and a feeling of ultimate pointlessness…. that feeling came much later.
Everything came to a climax when I ended up cutting my arms in front of my entire class because a teacher confiscated a non uniform scarf I had. It was like a buildup of all my anger and misery just exploded. My parents were called (I should add here that I have the most amazing parents, I had a wonderful childhood, I have a great relationship with everyone in my family, I am just an odd and miserable human). They tried everything to help, but I didn’t really know how they possibly could.
Fast forward to now. After leaving school a bit of a rebel without a cause, I got all the grades I needed. I should probably have tried harder, but to be honest I never showed up toward the end. I just wanted the whole education part of my life to be over so I could get away from it. I never in my wildest nightmares imagined that bullying would occur OUTSIDE of school.
Going into an industry like porn… or music… acting… modelling. Anything that puts you in prime position, shines a spotlight on you or gives you a platform on which to display yourself, one of the first things that veterans in that industry will tell you is to "grow a thick skin." Let me tell you a little something… that thick skin? It is fucking hard to grow. We all pretend we have it. We pretend we don’t care what you say about us, what you post. The comments pulling apart every inch of our bodies. The forums dissecting why we chose to do what with our lives whilst simultaneously jacking off to us in the tab next to it.
It’s the same in music, attacked from all angles by anonymous trolls for having an opinion, for "selling out…" how DARE you make money off your music and buy a house and a car and a holiday for you and your family… How. Fucking. Dare. You. Online bullying is rife in any entertainment industry… but porn? It is savage.
From the over familiar fans that turn hostile the second you don’t respond to a DM, to the evangelical Christians telling you that you will indeed burn in hell for all your sins and that you are the devil, to the guy that doesn’t realise you are a human person so he sends tweets like, “I don’t like your pussy lips,” and doesn’t care that it is actually incredibly vulgar, demeaning, and to be honest, just a bit heartbreaking.
The bullying is one of the reasons I chose to take a backseat when it came to performing. I cannot handle the social media side of the business. I throw my hands up and admit it, and I am not alone. My boyfriend has counselled me through hundreds of teary eyed tantrums and breakdowns off the back of what completely anonymous strangers have said to me online, whether they attack my choices, my physical appearance, my music, my opinions… it hurts.
The girls in the porn industry put the most intimate parts of their body and lives on show for YOU. Joe Public. So that you can whack off to whatever fantasy and persuasion you may choose. The choice is vast, so vast it pretty much never ends. Yes, we made the choice to do the job, but at the end of the day, there’s no porn without porn stars. You’re welcome. We turn up, we make those movies and then we take all the criticism and abuse hurled at us on our own social platforms.
In December, internationally known, incredibly successful porn actress August Ames took her own life following being bullied on social media, after making the choice not to work with a crossover performer (a male actor who has previously done gay porn). I should add here that in no way does this mean a performer is homophobic. A large percentage of the industry hold the same rule for SAFETY reasons. Nothing to do with the sexual orientation of said actors. In porn, we risk our health every single day on set, and some choose to take extra precautions.
Regardless of her reasons for not working with said performer, this is a case of strangers and colleagues bullying a young woman for choosing who she has sex with!? What kind of a world do we live in?! We are in the middle of the #MeToo epidemic and yet, this 23-year-old is having abuse hurled at her from every direction for deciding not to have sex with a particular male, for money. Her body. ABSOLUTELY HER CHOICE.
When I was performing, I had a No List longer than my arm for reasons as stupid as "he annoyed me at AVN once." She had every right to cancel the scene and every right to let the girl taking it know that her co-star was a crossover. There were a lot of fingers pointed in many directions after her death, but August's own husband took to her website to set the record straight. Bullying stole her life. Nothing more, nothing less. And I get it…
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I was August's best friend, or even that we really knew each other, except in passing at industry events. But she was always smiling and funny and sweet, and so damn beautiful and young. Her death hit me in a way I didn’t know it would. Yes, it is always sad when someone you know of dies, especially in such a tragic way, but this knocked me for six. It could have been any of us, any of my friends. It could have been me. I sat with two close friends a few days after and all three of us felt it. The horrible sickening sadness that actually, this could so easily have been avoided if online bullying had more awareness brought to it.
In school you are told, that if you bully you will be expelled. It is one of the WORST things you can do as a child, be a bully. When you are an adult, bullying in the workplace is also not tolerated and is reprimanded. But on the internet, the vast, unpoliced world wide web, there really is no way of tracking, policing, and controlling the level of bullying and abuse and the harm it does. People need to understand that leaving that random comment to someone you don't know, they will read, they will remember, they are human. Stop and think before you type, is it necessary? Would you say this to them in real life? Do you even know them? If not, WHY would you get involved in their business and give them your opinions on their life and body and choices?
There have been lives lost because of this and there will be more, of that I am sure, but the only thing we can do is raise awareness and hope that the future will be a little brighter, so that what happened to August does not repeat. In hopes that by spreading the word, we can save more lives that might otherwise be lost.