An interview with Nina Hartley, humanist, proud atheist, vocal feminist, and a pornstar with 600+ adult films to her credit:
NH: The widespread notion that legal porn production is a sink hole of abuse and coercion that takes advantage of poor, innocent women, is the biggest smack leveled against the business. It’s almost entirely a function or projection of people’s fears and discomfort about women, gender relations, sex, sexuality and the graphic depiction of sexual acts. The idea that a woman could choose, on purpose, to perform in pornographic videos for her own reasons still goes deeply against the notion that women are somehow victims of male sexuality, that they’re delicate flowers who need the protection of a good man, or the law.
The best protection for women everywhere, especially in the sex trades, is full decriminalization of all consensual sex work. Porn is legal to shoot in California. We pay taxes, buy permits, and the like. Any woman can pick up her phone and call her agent, or the police, and get full support if anything happens on a set. My biggest complaint these days is how the anti-sex work camp has, for the purpose of public confusion, conflated legal, consensual sex work, specifically pornography, with illegal, non-consensual trafficking of women for forced labor (some of it of a sexual nature). There is no connection between the legal material we make here in California and any trafficking of women. Full stop.
Are there some directors or agents with less-than-stellar reputations? Of course. This is not a business of selfless do-gooders (of course, the entire entertainment business is not run by selfless do-gooders). But the world can’t be made a child-safe day nursery. We either accept that performers are adults making their own choices (no matter how we may feel about those choices), or we go back to pre-Women’s Liberation days, when women couldn’t get credit in their own names, obtain birth control without their husband’s permission, or wear pants in the work place. Do we really want those days back?
But that's only part of the story. For a complementary viewpoint, on the impact of porn on men and women, read this by Naomi Wolf.