Why The Frisky Will No Longer Be Publishing James Deen’s Sex Advice Column
Yesterday afternoon, adult film star and writer Stoya tweeted the following about her former costar and ex-boyfriend, James Deen:
Shortly thereafter, another of Deen’s ex-girlfriends/former costars, Joanna Angel, tweeted her support:
I learned of Stoya’s accusation a few hours after she posted her tweets, and immediately made the decision to end James Deen’s sex advice column with The Frisky effective immediately.
Sometime tomorrow, the ads on the Sex section which link out to James Deen’s website will be removed. We won’t be publishing WWJDD going forward, and I will be making a decision about how to handle the columns we’ve already published in the next day or two.
I very much liked James Deen. I enjoyed working with him on WWJDD. I asked him to do an advice column because I liked his directness and his confidence, but most of all, I liked his emphasis on communication, honesty and, most of all, CONSENT. That he has been accused of violating Stoya’s consent, that women I respect have since contacted me directly to say that they know of others to whom he has done the same thing? Well, I’m fucking heartsick over it. This makes it impossible for me to work with him any further, to give him a forum for giving advice that he is accused of not following himself. No amount of good rapport between us or traffic to his columns would EVER supersede the fact that I BELIEVE WOMEN.
I imagine there will be some who will say, “But what about James Deen’s side to this story? What about evidence?” As is the case with the vast majority of rape accusations, especially between intimate partners, Stoya’s story of being raped by James Deen is very likely the only “evidence.” He is certainly within his rights to deny it, though it’s worth noting that he and his representatives have remained mute on the matter, and James has not responded to the text message I sent him yesterday. Like so many rape cases, this will very likely be a “he said/she said” situation. And as I tweeted last night, today and every day, I BELIEVE WOMEN.
From a professional standpoint, as the editor of a women’s blog which has published the accused’s words, acting swiftly and decisively is the least that I can do. The court of public opinion is not a court of law, and I don’t need Stoya or any woman to “prove” that she has been raped for me to believe her. Women who come out as rape victims are far, far, far too often not believed. This is especially true of women who work in the sex industry, with people actually wondering aloud if porn stars can be raped. Victims are put on trial themselves, with everything they’ve ever said/done/worn suddenly under scrutiny as possible “evidence” that they are lying or that they asked for it. This occurs despite mountains of actual evidence indicating that false rape accusations are exceedingly rare.
I believe women because the vast majority of women I know have been raped or sexually assaulted by a man they knew and/or trusted. I believe women because more than a few men have shown an utter lack of respect for whether I did or could consent. I believe women because, many years ago, I did not consent and he still “couldn’t help himself.”
I BELIEVE WOMEN. Period.
ETA: I just wanted to be clear on the arrangement we had with James. Every few weeks or so, James and I would get on the phone and I would ask him a handful of questions we had received from readers. He would answer them off the cuff and I would record what he had to say. I would then transcribe his answers and edited them (for flow/clarity, not substance) into a draft, which I sent to him for approval. In exchange for giving the advice in the column, he was not paid — instead, I linked to his website at the end of each piece, and the Sex section, where the column lived, was skinned with ads linking to his site.
UPDATE (Nov. 30, 2015): After careful thought and consideration, we have decided to add the following disclaimer to all of the previously published WWJDD columns:
After multiple women accused James Deen of rape and sexual assault in November 2015, The Frisky made the immediate decision to end our affiliation with the porn star and to cancel his sex advice column with the site. In addition to believing it would be inappropriate to continue publishing sex advice from someone facing such serious allegations, The Frisky is firm in its commitment to believing and standing in solidarity with victims/survivors when they come forward. After serious consideration and input, we decided to leave the previously published columns up on The Frisky with this disclaimer, as we believe the glaring divide between Deen’s consent-focused advice and the rape allegations against him should be part of the public record. For a more thorough explanation on our decision to end this column, click here.