Is the #MeToo movement affecting the French porn industry?

In what is being referred to as the French porn industry’s #MeToo moment, four French porn stars have been charged with rape. Organizations supporting feminism demand “the end of impunity” in the industry.

53 women have come forward to talk of being abused on French porn sets during a year-long police inquiry. They have talked about the industry’s culture of sexual violence, which includes being drugged and coerced into performing humiliating and demeaning activities. Police have received an official complaint from thirty women.

Four male porn actors, including one who works largely as a cameraman, have now been accused of rape for the first time in France. The second individual is still being monitored by the judicial system, while three of the men who were charged on October 29 are now being held in custody for trial.

Marjolaine Vignola, a Paris-based attorney who is representing two of the victims, said in an interview with FRANCE 24 that “These are women who weren’t believed, by the police but also by their colleagues.” Particularly because some of them had contracts—contracts with dubious legality, and occasionally ones that were completely void in legal terms. But in the pornographic industry, once someone has a contract, nobody bothers to look into it or see whether it’s legitimate.

The inquiry into the French amateur porn website “French Bukkake” started in March 2020, and this is the most recent update. Last October, four people were accused with aggravated pimping and human trafficking, including Pascal OP, the porn director, actor, and producer who founded the French Bukkake website. For his ferocious, out-there erotica, Pascal OP is well-known in the porn business. He is currently serving time in prison along with another pornographer going by the name “Mat Hadix.”

“The law is the same whether you’re in your bedroom or watching a porn movie.”

Even the guys who have been prosecuted found it challenging to see the pornographic recordings again in court, according to a story in the French newspaper Le Parisien. A judge requested an actor to replay a scene in which he forcibly had an actress fellate him, and then he was asked to describe the scene. In this instance, I’m guilty; I have no justification, he retorted. It’s rape, from what you’ve told me, because the girl’s consent isn’t given, you say, before breaking down in tears.

Vignola argued that it was excellent that performers were also being held accountable. “Whether you’re in your bedroom or playing a role in a porn movie, the law is the same if you continue having anal sex with a woman who is crying in front of you. Throughout a sexual act, consent must be confirmed repeatedly.

“A vast network of pimping”

An organization called Mouvement du Nid works to end prostitution and assists women who are or have been involved in prostitution. The organization claimed in a press statement that the research “laid bare how the criminal porn industry is organized: a vast network of pimping and human trafficking, subjecting women to prostitution, rape, and acts of torture.”

According to Sandrine Goldschmidt, an organization representative, “This is a very important case because it shows that impunity [in the industry] can be challenged, it’s not a foregone conclusion.”

In July 2020, a similar investigation into the French pornographic website “Jacquie et Michel” was launched. The inquiry was started as a result of complaints made to the police about a video by the French media Konbini in which two women discussed the abuse they experienced while filming pornography for “Jacquie et Michel” by the three feminist organizations Osez le féminisme, les Effronté-es, and Mouvement du Nid.

In reaction to the allegations, ‘Jacquie et Michel’ and French porn industry titan Marc Dorcel declared in November 2020 that they would create an ethical charter for the porn business in France. In April 2021, the guidelines were released following months of industry worker engagement.

Feminist organizations, meanwhile, have criticized the charter as “phony” The French journalist Robin D’Angelo said to France Inter that “these charters are just a marketing gimmick, opportunistic if not downright cynical,” after spending a year examining the amateur porn industry covertly.

Simply releasing a charter “isn’t a response to accusations of pimping, gang rape, and human trafficking,” according to the attorney Marjolaine Vignola. A charter cannot alter the entire system. It’s an effort to try to make amends.

Not only the French porn industry is under investigation. The American porn star Ron Jeremy is now being held in jail while awaiting trial after being charged with 30 counts of rape or sexual assault against 21 women.

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