Update: Backlash against James Deen in the wake of Stoya's accusation that he raped her continues as allegations against him accumulate. The Daily Beast reports that on Monday, Deen resigned as chairperson of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee’s board of directors, and pornography studios Kink.com and Evil Angel announced that they were cutting professional ties with the performer. Porn performer Tasha Reign shared her decision to replace Deen in an upcoming production, telling The Daily Beast, "I’ve done tons of scenes with him, I’ve hung out with him, and I really like him…but I am a feminist before I am a model or pornographer." Most jarring of all, two more porn performers, Amber Rayne and Kora Peters, have come forward with their own stories of being violated by Deen. Rayne recalls that during a scene, Deen punched her in the face twice and performed anal sex so aggressive that she required stitches afterward; Peters recounts being anally raped by Deen during another shoot. "The crew all high-fived him and told him what a great job he did getting an anal scene for the price of a boy/girl scene," she told The Daily Beast.
The tweets have undercut Deen's reputation as the sensitive, respectful antidote to macho male porn-performer stereotypes; while he's shied away from the label "feminist," he has been called both "the thinking girl's porn star" and "the Ryan Gosling of porn." Now, social media users are expressing their support for Stoya by stressing that nonconsensual sexual activity is always sexual assault, regardless of other professional or personal choices of the person on whom it's imposed — and that "nice guys" can be rapists, too.
Since Stoya sent the tweets alleging her rape by Deen, another porn performer, Tori Lux, has accused Deen of sexually assaulting her as well. "A few people with whom I’ve shared this story over the years have asked me why I didn’t call the police as soon as it happened, or publicly speak up about it shortly thereafter," Lux wrote in The Daily Beast. "The reason for that is because people — including the police — tend to believe that sex workers have placed themselves in harm’s way, and therefore can’t be assaulted." A third accuser, porn performer Ashley Fires, has just come forward to claim to The Daily Beast that Deen assaulted her, too. And after seeing Stoya's tweets, Amelia McDonell-Parry, editor-in-chief of women's website The Frisky, immediately decided to end Deen's sex advice column with the website and declared her support for Stoya.
Deen has denied Stoya's allegations, calling them "false and defamatory" and insisting "I respect women and I know and respect limits both professionally and privately."
We're heartened to see the support for Stoya and hope that her example paves the way for others to share their stories. Public opinion is not a court of law, of course, but our job as a society isn't to determine legal action; it's to believe and stand with women when they muster the courage to stand up for themselves.