Women

"Why Can't I Be a Feminist and a Porn Star at The Same Time?"

Adult film star Samantha Bentley believes her career is one of the most empowering of all for women.
IMAGE Esquire UK
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"I fell into the porn world by accident; I was 18, I'd just gone to university to study design at London College of Fashion, and I was determined not to take out a student loan. So, I decided I'd do stripping on the side.

I was making good money stripping, and it wasn't long before this led to Page 3 and topless shoots. This turned in to top shelf magazines, until one day when I was stripping, I got asked to do a porn shoot. The shoot was in Budapest, nobody spoke a word of English, and it was a girl on girl, which I'd never done before. I'd experimented with some solo stuff, but never anything with another person, and it felt odd. Because, I realised, its not sexit's a performance.

At first, I never really thought of it as a jobit was always just something that I did on the side for a bit of money. But the more work I got, the more it took over everything else, and eventually I made the decision to drop out of university to do it full time.

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It wasn't exactly in 'the plan'I always wanted to be a rock star or somethingbut I was making money, I was travelling, and it was exciting.

I got mixed reactions when I'd tell people what I did for a living. There were people who were really interested in it, because people are always interested in porn, and then there were those who said they were worried about me; that they'd expected more from me. That always riled me, though, 'Why? What did you expect?'

Were they expecting me to finish uni and to go work in a bar for minimum wage? Is that what I should have been aspiring to do? I think it was actually far more empowering that I was doing something where I was my own boss, where I was making more money than anyone else my age at the time, and where I was working incredibly hard. I was travelling, I was having fun, I could write my own schedule. If I didn't want to do something, I didn't have to. I'd far rather do that than wake up at 7 o'clock every morning to work eight hours miserably behind a shop till for about £40.

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There's always this idea that a woman who does porn is disrespecting herself, but I completely disagree. Ultimately, yes, I am selling my body. I am doing the most vulnerable thing you can dohaving sexand I'm doing it in front of everyone in the world. So for me, I've always done it my own way; I've always been very stubborn and very in controlit was my way or the highway with directors and other actors. That was empowering.

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Ironically, the only sexism I've experienced on set was from a woman. She claims to be a 'feminist porn director', but working with her was the only time I've ever had a breakdown at work. She made me feel ugly and that my scenes weren't good enough. I don't see how she can claim to be a feminist porn director when she clearly has issues with women in porn. You cannot be in the porn industry and have issues with porn.

Men were tricky at times, too. There were a lot of guys who wanted to date me as a trophy and then 'save me', which was always frustrating. I've got an amazingly supportive boyfriend now, but a guy I dated before him used to ask me every five minutes when I was going to give it up. I felt like saying: "Probably never, if you keep asking me that".

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I've always said I'd never stop working in porn for a man, and while I'm not shooting anymore (it's an exhausting lifestyle and I wanted a breakplus, the transition into 'MILF' doesn't fill me with enthusiasm), I've stuck to that. How many men would give up their careers for women?

Doing porn is one of the most feminist careers a woman can choose, in my opinion. Not only is it one of the only industries in the world where men are actually paid a fraction of what women are paid, but it's also one where women are using their femininity to make money and still be in control.

As a result of my career in porn, I can do what I want, when I want. I can go on holiday whenever I want, I can pay my own bills, I own two houses in London. Feminism should be a woman standing on her own two feet, taking care of herself and being happy in what she does, shouldn't it? Isn't that what we fought for? It's sad if people can't see it that way.

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There's another reason I call myself a feminist at the same time as a porn star: I'm exercising my freedom of choice. And so is everyone else in the industry. Whether they've made the choice because they have no money and it's an easy way of making some, or whether they just want to have sex and that's it, everyone I've met in that industry has made the choice to be there. Yes, every industry has instances of workers being exploited or mistreated, and porn is no different. That undoubtedly needs to change, regardless of profession. But, like other industries, it certainly isn't the majority that many people think.

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There's no reason the career I've built up in porn shouldn't be regarded with the same respect other women's careers in other industries are. I was always very aware of my principles—of my brand, of my following, of my look and of who I wanted to work for. I researched every single company before I shot for them, I said no to a lot of people and I've built my career up.

To me, my career in porn embodies everything I love about being a woman. It's power. It's different for everyone, but for me, I've learnt that being a woman truly makes you powerful, and nobody else's attitudes can change that."

FromCosmo UK

This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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