On Saturday, adult film actress Stoya made a startling declaration on Twitter, accusing her former co-star and ex-boyfriend James Deen of sexual assault.
That thing where you log in to the internet for a second and see people idolizing the guy who raped you as a feminist. That thing sucks.— Stoya (@stoya) November 28, 2015
Immediately, the Internet’s reaction was shocking, upfront support for the sex worker which prompted the hashtag “SolidarityWithStoya.”
Women's blog The Frisky terminated their business relationship with Deen following the news.
“I asked him to do an advice column because I liked his directness and his confidence, but most of all, I liked his emphasis on communication, honesty and, most of all, CONSENT,” Editor-In-Chief Amelia McDonell-Parry wrote. “That he has been accused of violating Stoya’s consent, that women I respect have since contacted me directly to say that they know of others to whom he has done the same thing? Well, I’m f***ing heartsick over it. This makes it impossible for me to work with him any further, to give him a forum for giving advice that he is accused of not following himself. No amount of good rapport between us or traffic to his columns would EVER supersede the fact that I BELIEVE WOMEN.”
Adult star Joanna Angel condemned Deen on Twitter and former adult film actress Tori Lux and another adult star Ashley Fires came forward with their own sexual assault allegations against Deen.
He’s dead on the inside and dead to me . He’s literally the worst person I’ve ever met . That’s all I’ll say for now #solidaritywithstoya— Joanna Angel (@JoannaAngel) November 29, 2015
Lux detailed her devastating encounter with Deen to the Daily Beast and shared why she didn’t call the police after it happened or publicly denounce Deen.
“People—including the police—tend to believe that sex workers have placed themselves in harm’s way, and therefore can’t be assaulted. Of course, this claim couldn’t be further from the truth, as being involved in sex work does not equate to being harmed,” Lux wrote. “Despite porn being a legal form of sex work, and it occurring in a controlled environment such as a porn set, this blame-the-victim mentality is still inherent in much of society. In turn, sex workers are silenced and our negative experiences are swept under the rug as we try to protect ourselves from the judgment of others.”
Deen blasted the claims on social media on Sunday as defamatory.
There have been some egregious claims made against me on social media— James Deen (@JamesDeen) November 30, 2015
I want to assure my friends, fans and colleagues that these allegations are both false and defamatory— James Deen (@JamesDeen) November 30, 2015
But his remarks haven't stopped the overwhelmingly support Stoya continues to receive over her allegations.
While traditional reactions to rape allegations are too often met with victim-blaming, specifically with the misunderstood consensual response of sex workers and intimate partners as already saying yes, Stoya’s support marks a profound moment of progress for our society.
“Women who come out as rape victims are far, far, far too often not believed. This is especially true of women who work in the sex industry, with people actually wondering aloud if porn stars can be raped,” McDonell-Parry wrote . “Victims are put on trial themselves, with everything they’ve ever said/done/worn suddenly under scrutiny as possible “evidence” that they are lying or that they asked for it. This occurs despite mountains of actual evidence indicating that false rape accusations are exceedingly rare.”
Instead of people writing off Stoya’s story, they are choosing to finally believe a woman’s words. Society is starting to recognize that consent does not qualify the moment you say no, no matter how many times you have said yes in the past.