What has feminism done for Jenna Jameson?

Before I start, let’s get the obligatory link to the scene from The Life Of Brian out of the way.

Jenna Jameson is a former porn performer and a millionaire businessperson. She also doesn’t think feminism and women’s organisations have ever done anything for her.

It’s a nice delusion, and a comfortable one, thinking you are where you are in life entirely down to your own hard work. It’s easy to believe when you’re fed the myth of BOOTSTRAPS your whole life, in combination with various cognitive heuristics which make you think you did everything yourself and are better than average. Now, Jameson’s achievements are not to be sniffed at. She’s done exceedingly well for herself, and much of it is down to hard work. The thing is, without feminism, she couldn’t have done it at all.

Jameson got famous through the sex industry, specifically stripping and porn. These industries have been made far safer by campaigning from women’s organisations. Jameson has her preferences in her porn performances, opting not to do any anal sex or double penetration scenes. Thanks to feminists banging on about sexual consent, her wishes have been respected and she has not been coerced to break these hard limits despite these being fairly profitable performances in porn, with anal sex becoming almost a default part of a performer’s repertoire.

Jameson has been married twice. Thanks to feminism and women’s organisations, on neither of these occasions has she been considered the property of her husband. She has been able to make her own money–and keep it–thanks to feminism and women’s organisations which gained women the right to own their own property.

For the 2012 US elections, Jenna Jameson has endorsed Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Now, this probably isn’t the finest of ideas for a woman. Jameson rejects the notion that her chosen candidate is part of a war on women (and says this war does not exist), which is all well and good, as long as she doesn’t use contraception, want an abortion, or mind that in her chosen candidate’s eyes she is a whore of Babylon. Still, she can vote for who she likes. And she can vote because of feminism and women’s organisations.

All of these women who came before Jenna Jameson have helped her get to where she is today. They did not do it specifically for her, but for all women. The fight will go on and on, and continue to improve the lot of women–including Jenna Jameson.

15 thoughts on “What has feminism done for Jenna Jameson?”

  1. She won’t be the only woman out there who doesn’t think it’s done anything for her. I bet there are plenty who don’t realise just how recently it was that a woman (in the UK) needed her husband or father’s permission to get credit.

  2. I think her endorsement of Mitt Romney might be a bit tongue-in-cheek because she said something like, “What’s more American than screwing people for money?”

    But for any woman nowadays to claim that feminism has done nothing for her or “I’m not a feminist” is an idiot with no idea about what things were like even just 40 years ago. When I married in 1976 I still needed my husband’s permission to get credit even though I made a bit more money at my job than he did at his (BTW, he didn’t need MY permission to get credit). Any woman who votes Republican is also an idiot because the leaders of that party want you to shut up and get back into the kitchen where they think you belong. Sure, they’re happy to take your money and your vote but they will give you nothing in return while they continue to chip away at your rights.

  3. Depends on the feminism. There’s clearly a difference between feminists who campaign for rights based on justice and fairness for all, and feminists who say that Jenna Jameson is a gender scab who ruins other women’s lives by perpetuating patriarchal myths about women’s sexual availability and should therefore be made less safe by having her career criminalised.

    Jameson is, to a very loud and vocal group, the wrong kind of woman for feminism anyway.

    She won’t be the first sex worker to reject feminism, merely the highest profile one.

    The economic argument, well, that’s just what people do when they get rich. Nobody said that just because you were a woman and a sex worker you couldn’t also be an asshole.

  4. agreed that every woman in the western world benefits from feminism every day. agree about marriage etc. however don’t think i can agree completely with your claims about feminists making the lives of sex workers better – not without first acknowledging that other feminists have made our lives much worse, much more dangerous. for every feminist campaigning for our rights, there are four more working alongside religious fundamentalists and other right-wingers to criminalise and ostracise us. hence so many sex workers so pissed off with feminism, they don’t realise that the majority of vocal and visible feminists do not represent all feminists. i am both a sex worker and a feminist, so i am fairly familiar with the complicatedness of the question what has feminism done for sex workers? we are one group of women who feminism has not always helped, instead has sometimes hindered with serious consequences.

    1. Cheers for your comment, Hilary? Was just wondering if you’ve got a figure for the “four more working to criminalise”. Because I’m aware it’s a problem, but didn’t think it was that prevalent; this might be because within the circles I move, there’s none of the old-style BAN SEX WORK types (although, admittedly, many are not vocal in any way towards making sex work safer and destigmatising it).

      But yes, I agree there is a problem with the radfems and they way they treat sex work. It’s absolutely disgusting, and the good news is I’m seeing the younger generations of feminists thoroughly rejecting their methods.

      1. I don’t know if anyone’s ever done a census and counted specifically that there are 4 times as many feminists who want prostitutes to catch AIDS and die than who don’t.

        I think the problems are multivariable. For most feminists, the problems they face in their day to day lives are the most pressing ones (this makes them no more self centred than every other human being, that’s just how people think). So things like equal pay, being told you’re fat, wondering how to bring up your male children so they don’t turn out to be rapists… these are the “pressing” issues of the day.

        Then there’s the inherent problem with RadFem, which is that everything is aligned along a one dimensional “patriarchy” line and all power imbalances everywhere ever stem from the male-female dichotomy. This is, I think, fundamentally wrong and distorts attempts to understand complex intersecting oppressions, and one reason why “feminism” is still regarded as a rich white lady’s game in many circles.

        Then there’s the fact that if you’re a feminist who says things that fit the status quo, you will get a bigger platform and more funding and more power. Most men don’t believe themselves to be terrible rapists, but they’re quite happy that women are fragile victims who need to be protected from all those Other Men who are terrible rapists (provided that we take care to distinguish between Bad Men Like That and Good Men Like Me, preferably with some kind of class or race marker to ensure there could be no way anyone would generalise over the entire gender.)

        Then there’s the fact that everyone loves villains, and there’s no better villain than a traitor. When things go bad, everyone loves having someone weaker than them to take it out on. It’s very rare that good, nice women will get taken to task for unloading vitriol in the direction of whores who are ruining it for everyone.

        Then, as you say, there’s the fact that even among feminists who actually, when you sit down and talk to them for half an hour, pretty much agree that porn stars are people too, it’s not a pressing issue for them. Wheras on the other side there are people for whom it is an all consuming passion, and getting everyone to realise just how terrible Jenna Jameson is for refusing to acknowledge that she gets raped for a living is their day job.

        So while I don’t know that there’s really, numerically, 4 for every 1, in terms of voice and power it certainly appears that pro-sex-work voices are outnumbered and outshouted dramatically.

        Personally I still think that sex workers should understand that, on balance, the pros of feminism work out for them, in general, over the long term. But I simply don’t have the chutzpah to say that any given sex worker who has chosen to reject the term is doing so because of ignorance or malice, and should pick it up again to make non sex workers feel better. If so many sex workers are rejecting the term, that’s really a sign that “feminism” as a broad church needs to examine who it’s including and who it’s excluding.

      2. Um… Ohhkayy. I don’t believe at any point I said she couldn’t. I was contributing to what seemed like an open discussion. Maybe I should turn off email notifications so I don’t get the erroneous impression people are talking to me.

  5. Although I agree that feminism is a powerful force in helping women who have exited the sex trade – there are also many ways that parts of feminism betrayed the average women or girls inside the sex trade. There is with too much of feminism the desire to want to believe that being inside the sex trade is a full choice – and with much of ordinary hate and violence done to them is made invisible or thought to be part of nature. In other words, some aspects of feminism keep the prostituted as the Other – as sub-humans, playing the game of the sex trade.
    I am exited prostituted woman who now campaign for abolition of the sex trade. Part of the fight is to have separate voices for exited women – for it hard to completely trust feminism not to manipulate our realities, especially those who support the sex trade. It is only radical feminists who allows us to speak without translating our to suit their preconceived views.
    Of course, Jenna Jameson is a woman of power – but she was also abused and not believed.

  6. Seems like it’s pretty easy for a regular recipient of benevolent sexism to belittle feminism. She’s enjoying a certain level of privilege, and like some men, doesn’t want to give that up, hence feminism bashing.

  7. As a feminist I don’t feel any negativity towards sex workers and to my knowledge most feminist feel the same way. Porn culture is the problem, not the women working as prostitutes, strippers or pornstars.

    Oh and Sameolsht got it right!

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