Can a parent ever accept her daughter’s work as a p0*rn star? Mine did.
I had a tense and antagonistic relationship with my mother when I was growing up. At the age of 16, I was sure that I would never speak to her again once I could move out of the house. We were too dissimilar: she, a methodical scientist and introvert; me, a free-spirited writer and extrovert. The tchotchkes around the house that gave her such joy made me want to scream, and the pop culture I adored seemed toxic and damaging to her feminist politics.
It took me many years and 3,000 miles of distance for me to realize my mother was not just a parent, but a person with life experiences of her own. While I thought that she was just trying to ruin my life (as teenagers are wont to believe), I realize now how she was trying to protect me from the trauma that she experienced when she was my age. Thankfully, we now have a deeply loving, playfully teasing relationship — not just as mother and daughter, but as friends.
And we got there thanks, in part, to p0rn.
Yes, that is an incredibly weird thing to say. So many people I know can barely talk to their parents about s€x, or their queer identity, or their multiple partners, never mind their lives as s€x workers. I’ve always been grateful that my mother encouraged me to ask any and all questions that my public schools couldn’t answer — questions like, “Oh my god, are the lumps under my nippl£s cancer??” (No.) Or, “Does it make me less of a feminist if I fantasize about being dominated?” (No, not if that’s what I really want.) That openness was valuable to me.
Still, I tried to hide my work in the p0rn industry from my mother. She’s a second-wave feminist, so I grew up marching next to her at NOW rallies. By the time I was dabbling in the adult industry, I had read enough about the history of feminism to feel pretty confident that she would not welcome my “alternative lifestyle.” I didn’t feel very close to her at the time, and I certainly did not feel prepared to talk to her about this career choice. As I worked and blogged under a different name, I didn’t think she would ever find out.
My mother emailed me to say she had discovered that I was doing s£x work — and that I was using the name “Stryker,” a family name with which my mother had a difficult relationship. My heart caught in my throat. Not only had I been caught doing s€x work, which seemed against her feminist politics, but I was doing it using a name that she hated. I was sure I was about to get disowned.
Incredibly, my mother was amused by my use of the name. In fact, she felt that my using it to do s£x work kind of redeemed it for her, which touched my heart. Through that discovery, my mother and I began to talk more, sharing feminist writings on sex work (pro, con, and somewhere in the middle), talking about self-care, and discussing the ins and outs of ethical porn. My mother didn’t yell at me, or talk over me, or dictate to me what I should or shouldn’t be doing.
She listened when I had great days and felt like p0*rn was the most empowering thing I could do for myself, how I was claiming $3xuality in a way that felt safe and fun for me. She listened when I felt insecure about my body, loving my fatness and my curves but also aware that being this way would mean fewer jobs and less respect. She listened when I had a tough day, and felt anxious about the weird power dynamics in the industry.
My mother never told me to quit. She never told me I had made a bad decision. She never asked me how I could be a feminist and a $3x worker. She made space for me and my experiences, and she gave me advice or sympathy when I asked. So I found myself reaching out to her more often, grateful for her analysis and her wit. Now, I consider her one of my closest friends.
I know that my decision to have $3x on screen wasn’t easy for her to wrap her head around. I am so appreciative that she opened a completely unexpected door so we could have the relationship we have today. She’s educated herself on various industry issues, becoming a solid and outspoken ally. Knowing she’s proud of me — as an entrepreneur, as a writer, and yes, as a $3x worker — has made me feel accepted and loved, and I am thankful every day to have been offered that chance for us to get to know each other all over again.
PLease note confessions are anonymously written.
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