Psychology teacher turned adult film star says parents are the problem not porn
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: Dee Siren
The adult film industry is - without a doubt - a contentious topic. Publicly condemned and blamed for teaching children misleading, dangerous and violent narratives around sex, it's a conversation which makes religious groups, educational bodies and parents alike, squirm. However, it's easy to play the blame game.
Instead of pinning everything on porn, a psychology teacher turned adult film star mostly blames parents for young people's dangerous relationship with pornography.
If you search the internet for articles about porn, you're met with predominantly disapproving and resolute opinions on the adult film industry. But what's the reality of working in adult films?
There's a National Anti-Porn Awareness Week (which has previously spanned across the end of October into the first week of November), but no widely acknowledged week simply titled, 'Porn Awareness Week' - so, we decided to make one.
Prepare yourself for the first of five articles offering a completely stripped back look into the adult film industry, with each performer baring all - in more ways than one:
Dee Siren is sat across from me in a pink fluffy dressing gown, wide-framed scholarly but slightly cat-eyed spectacles, her hair in a messy bun, sat on a pink gaming chair.
I don't know what I expected to see behind her through the limited rectangular Zoom screen - perhaps a sex swing, or some handcuffs chained to the wall, a secret sex dungeon or some erotic outfit.
Instead, I get the view of a bright, tidy bedroom, some colourful paintings framed on the wall, the warm glow of a lamp and a shelf overflowing with books - Dee used to be an elementary school teacher, who has a degree is psychology and sociology.
Dee, a 49-year-old mum-of-three, came into the industry later in life from 'a vanilla job' as a teacher, having been inspired as a swinger (someone who engages in group sex) and seeing the progression into the adult film industry as 'super natural'.
Dee and her husband create content together - a career move they both 'put a lot of thought into around how it would affect [their] family'.
"It was something that just seemed to go along with my life and it was much better financially than being a teacher," Dee told UNILAD. "Plus it gave me the freedom to be with my children."
"Most people think porn is a detriment to children which is a huge misconception. Without my career, my children would have grown up in daycare. I was able to have a flexible schedule and do my thing when I needed, but otherwise I spent all my time with them."
While the flexibility of Dee's career in the adult film industry has benefitted the lives of her children, her experience doesn't take away from the damaging effects porn has on some young people.
In an article I previously wrote about the porn industry, young people admitted to feeling insecure about their bodies as a result of a lack of diversity in adult film.
Dee takes pride in how she doesn't 'look like your typical porn star' - entering her career in her late 30s, without 'a ton of plastic surgery' as 'the real milf, the real hot wife, somebody who can relate to real people and real bodies'.
Despite this, Dee admits the representation of different body types in the industry is still far from ideal.
"A couple of years ago they made some big 'Big Beautiful Woman' (BBW) movies. But they’ll put BBW’s in a separate category," she explains. "It's the same with race. It’s always been fetishised, the same with 'Big Black C**ks' (BBC), everything is always separated and labelled."
However, is such separation and fetishisation the fault of the adult film industry?
"You try to get rid of the labels, but then someone says, 'Well, if I can't label you, I don’t even know how to look you up'. In my opinion no one should be labelled but it's super hard to get past the labels because that’s what society looks for.
"I don’t think it’s any different from everything else in society with labelling and hash-tagging everybody," Dee argues.
Adult film has also been condemned by many as promoting violence and abuse against women.
However, Dee explains a lot of 'fetishes' - such as rougher sex - can be 'what performers really enjoy' doing themselves.
"I’m one to do crazy s**t. I do kind of extreme stuff. Some of the things I do people may think are completely insane, but it’s not violent to me. It wasn’t even painful. I’m not into hitting or that stuff but I am into big toys.
"You can’t demonise anything and say for me, it’s good, but for you, it's not," the mum says.
My previous article about the pressures of porn on young people also raised questions around the lack of consent shown in adult film.
Lucy Whitehouse - who helped launch Fumble, a charity seeking to provide safe, accurate and insightful information to young people about sex and porn in a digital age - advised young people should go to porn websites 'knowing that it is a tool for entertainment not education'.
However, Dee admits a lot of people still end up copying acts from porn videos.
While it's not adult film performer's jobs to 'teach' anyone about sex, the role of teacher has unfortunately been thrust onto them due to the position not being as readily taken up by anyone else in society.
One of my previous article's interviewees spoke about how her ex-boyfriend assaulted her after copying something he'd seen in a porn video - not asking for consent because he'd not seen it portrayed.
In order to help reduce the risk of young people learning damaging behaviours, Dee thinks the porn industry needs to 'talk about the fact we all sign [consent] forms and how some people like to be choked, but it’s also something everyone agreed to before'.
While some performers see being videoed out of character as a violation of their privacy, Dee feels a certain sense of responsibility: "We should just talk about it rather than ignoring the fact that people do learn from us."
However, ultimately, Dee believes the majority of the responsibility to educate children about sex - and to remind young people porn is not education but fantasy - falls on parents.
As a mother of two children in their twenties and one aged 16, she says: "I have always had the opinion that the moment you are willing to get that kid a phone - let's say at 10 years old - you better talk to that kid about sex.
"Because they will learn about it. And if you’re not going to talk about it, they’re going to watch it, have no idea what’s happening and end up super confused."
Growing up in the 80s and 90s, there wasn't any internet and so Dee's access was limited to Playboy magazine 'and maybe a VHS tape'.
Despite the lack of technology in Dee's upbringing compared to now, the same issue still stands: Dee was 'never talked to as a kid about sex' and got in trouble for 'exploring herself'.
Dee believes the 'shame and judgement that comes along with sex and your sexuality, ingrained in every cultural society' also affects children's understanding, specifically around consent.
"Societies have literally caused us to think our basic instinct of sex is a bad thing. We’ve been told our bodies are ugly, not normal, are a bad thing and to cover up. You’re so indoctrinated to that idea - and it starts at such an early age. It's become a generational problem."
Dee argues conversations need to be more open, but there is a limit.
The mum-of-three has always been 'super open' with her own kids, but doesn't talk about all the 'crazy s**t' she's done.
"The reason I did [crazy s**t] is because I was so so restricted by my parents. I was like, 'You told me everything was bad and everything was scary so I’m just going to do it all and find out for myself'," she explains.
Dee resolved if parents want to truly protect their children and positively influence their understanding and own experiences of sex, they should simply 'talk to them' and 'explain, "Hey, this might not be the greatest thing, but try this".'
Dee subsequently feels like it's her job to educate parents, not children.
"To teach parents to stop telling their children their body parts are bad and to teach them its okay to have pleasure with sex. Why can’t I feel good about myself? Why can’t I touch myself? Why can’t I explore my own body?
"I think it’s super important to make people understand their own vessel here on earth belongs to them. You don’t ever give it away. It belongs to you and you get to choose what to do with it. And the first step with that is to explore it yourself," she continues.
While suggesting there could be more insight into adult film stars giving consent before scenes, Dee ultimately wants to remind people that porn - like any other sort of entertainment - is a form of 'art' and children should be learning from educational bodies or parents, because adult film stars are 'just artists'.
"It’s 'let's blame the music, let's blame TV' - any kind of entertainment you can come back to blame.
"But what it really comes down to is we love to point fingers at anything which isn’t pointing the thumb back at ourselves."