Are Porn Stars Really Healthier and Happier?

Andrew Sullivan flags a new study in the Journal of Sex Research that reports that women who appear in pornographic films experienced no more child abuse and has higher levels of self-esteem and social support than did a matched sample of women who did not appear in porn. The results have generated good publicity for the adult film industry. I am no expert in the substantive issue at question, but my experience in other areas of research on health issues and corporate industries make me more skeptical than is Sullivan about this study.

In my research area of addiction for example, we have had a number of cases in which scientists who worked for industries that make money from addictions (e.g., the tobacco industry) reported “objective evidence” that their product was not dangerous, to have the findings overturned later by disinterested parties. Likewise, pharmaceutical industry-funded research has in some case overstated the benefits and understated the risks of new medications.

An ethical, careful researcher can of course be employed by or accept grant money from an self-interested industry and try to do an objective study anyway, but all the experience we have in this area indicates that regardless of good intentions, research findings have a tendency to be favourable to whoever funded the research. It’s not typically a crass quid pro quo relationship between researchers and funders, but the usually subtle influence of funding on findings is present enough of the time to make a wise consumer of science cautious.

In the case of the pornography study, one of the authors was affiliated with the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, which had a long term fiduciary relationship with the adult film industry. The same organization helped pay for the research (I could not find this acknowledged in the article, but the lead author so confirmed when asked).

Does this mean the study’s findings are wrong? No. But just as we would not uncritically accept findings that all pornography actresses are abuse victims if one of the authors were a board member of the League to Stamp Out Porn we should be skeptical of the present findings until they are replicated by a disinterested team of researchers.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College Lonon. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over ten thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

52 thoughts on “Are Porn Stars Really Healthier and Happier?”

  1. I tend to share Keith’s skepticism, at least as of today. But history may be on Andrew’s side. Porn seems to be undergoing the same kind of evolution that the theater underwent in the last few centuries (at least for women): from something forbidden to the province of the demimonde to something merely raffish. Will parallel evolution continue? The mind wobbles.

  2. I haven’t read the study, so I take no position on its actual merits. Industry-funded studies aren’t necessarily wrong. But that’s the way to bet.

  3. I don’t know any porn actresses, or actors, so if they’re happy exhibitionists, good for them. However, I’m not sure that saying that they’re just as happy as the average woman is enough to get me excited. I know we have it better in the US than a lot of other places, but I still say, being female is a worse life. It just is. So sue me. And I don’t want to hear about how much you love your kids, etc etc. Men have kids too. Men have female friends too. Where’s the margin, I’d like to know. Though come to think of it, why did I think there was one?

    And if you’re wondering why you never hear this kind of talk from other women, it’s because there’s no reward in life for telling men the truth. Plus, when’s the last time you asked?

    I would have fewer issues with porn if it were all amateur people in actual relationships. Whether someone is “happy” doesn’t remove the issue of coercion. Generally, if someone really wants to do something, you don’t have to pay her.

    1. No, but if YOU really want someone ELSE to do something, you prima facie create the opportunity for them to ask for money to do it.

      1. Well, if that isn’t a good ole’ chicken-and-the-egg question. I have no answer for you today.

        I would just posit whether the issue isn’t so much *what* is being done, than *who* is doing it. That is, couldn’t it be that the people one knows in real life (or, IRL, as the kids say…) who actually like one, and who would do the things “for free” (“free” being understood to mean only an absence of pay, not an absence of, say, affection and loyalty and all those other much more inconvenient-to-give-than-money things), are somehow not as … desirable as the youngsters, who in fact are not at all interested, really, and therefore must be paid/coerced?

        One of my issues with porn, other than the coercion, is a concern about the increasing airbrushedness of men’s psyches, such that they become less and less interested in women they actually know. One wonders, is all.

    2. ” I know we have it better in the US than a lot of other places, but I still say, being female is a worse life. It just is. So sue me. ”

      You say this based on what? The social science research I have seen suggests that in the US, like practically every country, the mean happiness for women is the same as for me; BUT the degree of variation in women is higher, both within a cohort and across time.

      1. It is based on experience and observation. And no one has ever asked my opinion in these great studies you cite.

        Also, witness the utter silence of any other women here. Like I said, there’s no reward for telling the unpleasant truth. That’s why we need whistleblower protections.

        But I don’t mean to complain unduly. My life is fine. It’s just … not as fine. But don’t worry, I still wouldn’t trade. You know, one gets attached.

      2. You know, on second thought, I think the relative absence of women on this thread is just because of the subject matter. I don’t think most US women go around thinking, oh it’s soooo awful to be female. (And I don’t either, mostly.)

        Now, what they might say if you asked them, all else equal, would you rather have been male or female? Who knows. I guess it’s all projection.

  4. Oh and I forgot, weren’t all these women on the young side? Ha! Wait ten or twenty years. And no, I have no intention of reading the actual study.

    1. Good question, but the study was matched on age. Matching can control confounding, but the price you pay is the loss of any ability to detect an effect of the matched variable on the answer. Matching has acquired a reputation as not being worth the price paid for its advantages, in part because in a study like this, age effects are not likely to be detected.

      1. No, it’s still a good question, even with the control matching group of the same age. It’s not hard to imagine that there are several activities that a person in their 20’s can do that allow them to be happy in the short run (or don’t detract from happiness), but cause more unhappiness later on. And it’s pretty clear that starring in porn is generally for younger women only, and it’s reasonable to think that acting in pornography might have long-term impacts.

        So a better study might survey a good controlled group of women who were in the business but are now a decade or two away, to see how they are doing financially and happiness-wise.

        Obviously that study is also limited in that it only reveals the effects of the porn industry a couple decades ago, but short of access to a time machine, that’s the best we can do.

        1. I think I saw on the news the other day, that a schoolteacher is in danger of being sacked for having once been in a (softcore?) porn movie.

          Of all the nonsense. I hope she wins. Same with all those people who get fired for posting things on FB and Craigslist. Little Johnny and Susie should be taught to mind their own business.

  5. Plus, and this is my last one for now, I promise, can we stop calling people “damaged goods?” Please??? It’s so incredibly offensive, just the idea.

  6. The study is available via the link you provided, I would think if you were going to offer such a generalized critique you might accompany that with examples of where problems could occur. What specifically would you take issue with?

    1. The study is weakest in its sampling methodology. The actresses in the sample formed a convenience sample drawn from an ill-defined population. These form a sample of “cases” The authors attempted to compensate for this problem by constructing a “control” sample matched to the case sample on the basis of age, ethnicity and marital status. This creates an analytic problem, because the the “control” sample isn’t randomly selected.

      So, one could argue that the study design more-or-less requires an analysis that matches cases with controls. The authors’ analysis does not match cases and controls. One might also argue that the “controls” are not specifically matched to cases, and moreover that the control sample was more-or-less randomly selected from the general population of women meeting the case sample.

      However, the probability structure for sampling does not reflect any sort of independent (or even exchangeable) structure in the control sample. The authors’ chosen analyses are wrong (not to put too fine a point on it.)

      Now, having said that, it is incumbent on me to suggest how to do it correctly. If I were going to suggest an analysis, I would match cases with controls, and possibly even draw two controls per case. I would draw a random sample of actresses from the Clinic’s client records and screen for work as an actress. I would analyze in a manner consistent with the (revised) study design.

      This weakens the potential findings, because several of the analytic tools the authors chose are not useable in the revised design. In particular, the discrimination methods the authors use could not be used with the revised design. However, those analyses are really the weakest and least persuasive in the study. Getting an 83% probability of correct classification is not very impressive: the authors only predict the training sample. They really should perform a cross-validation analysis to estimate misclassification probabilities.

    2. An immediately apparent issue with the paper is the open-ended nature of the key question, “Were you a victim of childhood sexual abuse?” The authors do acknowledge in their discussion that this may mean different things to different participants in the study. It could have been remedied by asking more specific, closed-ended questions: Were you touched in the genital area by an adult before you were 13 years old? Did an adult expose his genital area to you before you were 13? Did an adult cause you to touch his genitals before you were 13?

      If an adult woman works in the porn industry, she may have coded these experiences as not constituting abuse, and her answers are given in retrospect to the actual incidents of sexual experience. For example, she may recall herself as a participant and not as a victim. A preschool girl who is vaginally penetrated by an uncle was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, regardless of how she codes that experience as an adult.

      The more vague the question, the more likely a study is to misclassify exposure to a potential risk factor for anything. In general, biases introduced by such misclassification are expected to bias the answer towards the null hypothesis of no difference between groups. This is not to say that misclassification could occur with more specific questions, but the survey is set up in a way that makes a “no difference” answer more likely.

      The conclusions giveth, but the methods taketh away. Dennis is correct as well.

      1. Thanks, Ed.

        I didn’t want to get into that particular can of worms, because I had already invested more time than it was worth. You are quite correct, though: the abuse data is not at all useful.

  7. every single woman i have ever dated, including the woman i married, was sexually abused in some fashion by a male relative. admittedly this information comes from a sample size of 6, but it leads me to conclude that the statement that porn actresses are no more likely to be sexually abused as minors than the general population is not really saying much.

    1. It doesn’t lead you to wonder if you’re not attracted to sexually abused women, and picking up on some subtle signal to find them?

      Not only has every woman I’ve dated been left handed, my sister in law is left handed, too. But this doesn’t lead me to suspect that most women are left handed, only marvel at how efficiently me an my brother are picking out women who match our mother in this respect, without consciously trying to.

      1. not really, because they had many more differences than similarities–types of interests, choices of professions, ages, educational backgrounds. i was startled by the first two admitting the sexual abuse because they did not fit into any stereotype of abused women i hgad encountered in my callow youth but as the third and fourth told me of the abuse i began to conclude that the sexual abuse of women by male relatives is much more widespread than many would like to think.

  8. In the category of vague and unreliable constructs is “self esteem.” Self esteem reliably prediicts one tbing – good feelings (stop the presses). Anyone can feel good about his/her self – there’s no shortage of sociopaths and narcissists who esteem themselves quite highly. Not that a healthy self esteem is a bad thibng, but self esteem isolated from its context is not a useful, predictive thing. Also, it might be the case that someone with a compelling reason to, say, emphasize the positive (helped not a little by lots of cash and attention) might tend towards a somewhat skewed self image. Another question might be from what strata of the industry the sample was taken – were these top of the pay/status range performers, or meth addicts working for their week’s entertainment? And Ebenezer is correct – sex on film for money, in certain adventurous circles, has become almost quotidian, certainly not forbidden or reputation destroying. Good for us; hopefully honorable sex work will someday be seen as part of life. But are these the “porn stars” in the study? On the face of it, this looks like a ‘push’ study.

    1. The little blurb on the link I read — far as I got — also said these folks do more kinds of drugs than the control. So, in theory, they’re young, getting stroked all day, and on drugs — what’s not to be happy about? I’m not sure I buy it, but, if it’s true, good for them I guess.

  9. Chris Hedges can be a scold, but he has earned the right. And he is right most of the time even if few seem to listen. His chapter on porn in Empire of Illusion is convincing. This study, not so much, and since an author did not divulge his potential conflict of interest up front, it never will be. The parallels with drug and tobacco companies are particularly apt. More recently it has been fossil fuel companies and climate change. Except with the latter, the damage will not be undone by anything we can imagine, notwithstanding Professor Kahn’s dreams of geoengineering.

    1. I was mightily impressed with War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning and received Empire of Illusion with great expectations. I put it down during the porn chapter and never picked it back up.

    2. I had a response similar to John’s for the chapter on the porn industry but read it quickly in order to get to the later chapters which were much easier to take. Hedges seems to have focused on an extreme form of this industry, which probably has a spectrum of expression.

      At one time, there was also such a thing as soft-core pornography which had the teat but not the tumidity. One film titled “Emmanuelle” appeared in some of the art theaters in the mid 1970s, and it bore no resemblance to the material in the chapter on the subject in Empire of Illusion. Mixed audiences attended the showings (where occasional peals of female laughter in the theater served as a reminder that the sexes saw the same images differently). Hedges’ chapter does not mention this phenomenon, which could mean either that it has ceased to exist or that Hedges was not interested in it. I suspect the latter; perhaps because he is preoccupied with cultural decline and the takeover of the society by the barbarians and did not want to endanger a good story. One learns just as much about Chris Hedges as about the porn industry by reading his descriptions and pondering whether his sample represents the full scope of what may be out there. This in turn leaves his readers wondering about the representativeness of his selections of material for higher education and other topics in his books.

      In “Bull Durham,” Kevin Costner’s character rattles off a list of things he believes after Susan Sarandon’s character has challenged him to do so. One of the thing he believes in is soft core pornography. You gotta figure that there remains a market for it, but the study we are criticizing may not be sampling from its ranks, whose need for frequent medical examinations would not be very great, since they only create the suggestion and the appearance of what the hard core industry delivers explicitly. The risk behaviors probably have a different distribution in that sector, no?

      1. I don’t necessarily want to start another thread, but I just remembered an example of soft core porn which violates the Hedges paradigm in every way. The movie came out some years ago. “En la Cama” is a Spanish film which takes place entirely in a hotel room with only two characters who produce some highly charged but non-explicit erotic encounters, one of which forms the first scene of the picture. As the panting and gasping dies down and both characters catch their breath, it is apparent that the man has not quite caught the woman’s name; she introduces herself and the two shake hands. Clearly this is done in good humor. But as the story progresses, most of the “action” is a prolonged conversation, during which stories emerge which reveal the vulnerabilities of the two characters. When he was young, his brother disappeared never to be seen again; she is getting married in a couple of days and feels insecure about that.

        Here are three features which could set the soft core apart from the hard: humor, human narrative, and male vulnerability. Together they make the film humane and utterly unlike the violent and dominating imagery that Hedges was so focused on. I must admit that this is probably not the industry standard, since I am not aware right away of other films like it. But there is potential for an art form here; perhaps the sad thing is that such things are rather rare.

        1. Thanks for the hot movie tip!!!

          Even in “regular” movies, I always find that any kissing and so forth breaks my focus, or my suspension of disbelief, or [insert other cinematic term for this]. Those scenes always remind me that, oh yes, this is two actors, faking the whole thing. I’m not sure why it’s the physical contact that does it. Maybe because I start wondering about, did they both remember to use mints before the scene? Are their spouses watching? Are their mouths closed or open, and why would I care? And would that make it a “real” kiss, or is it still fake, since they are actors?

          I guess a porn movie without any actual sex would not have this problem for me, plus, bonus, much fewer ethical issues. Maybe even none!! Cool.

          1. You have to wonder what kind of experiences the actors actually have when rolling around together without wearing a stitch. Maybe they distance themselves mentally or something. Actual simulated sex is not that uncommon in “regular” movies; again, the soft core industry would present fewer risks of STDs among the participants.

            If I remember rightly, in the final scene of “En la Cama” there is no more talking, but she rests her head on his shoulder as he holds her very gently. A sweet ending for certain. Not the Hedges paradigm by a long shot, and if it is pointed out that there is one of these films for every 500 violent male domination productions, then we do have a major malfunction in out culture. The reverse ought to be the case. I hope you can find it on DVD.

  10. Porn stars are entertainers. Part of the entertainment is the idea that they are having more fun than everybody else. I think it is part of their schtick to go on about how great it is to be f***ing all those studs all day. Why would they tell a researcher anything different?

  11. OTOH, orgasms are documented to have positive effects on your mental health, via an identifiable biochemical mechanism. I’m kind of suspecting that porn stars might benefit from this. Now, if you could match them against a population of women in other careers who have sex just as frequently, I’m sure you could control for this effect, but finding such a population might be tricky.

      1. There IS a placebo effect from faked smiles. This is well-known, and has been experienced by everyone who felt depressed and just wanted to be alone but was dragged to an event by friends. Simply being forced to smile at those around you has an effect, making you feel better. This has been investigated and verified in a number of ways.

        Having said that, personally I suspect the obsession with abuse that runs throughout these comments is an irrelevant distraction.
        In the first place we have to distinguish between porn as a career and porn as a short-term lark — the equivalent of flashing at Mardi Gras.
        Having made that distinction and looking at career girls, I think (based on anecdote, but admittedly not on science) that the real issue here is drugs — girls (and plenty of boys) do the porn for heroin, cocaine, and especially meth. This is my interpretation of the (IMHO preternaturally aged) faces that are commonly seen at porn expos:
        http://www.villagevoice.com/slideshow/exxxotica-expo-nsfw-28496885
        (And yes, BELIEVE that NSFW tag at the end of the URL. There are faces here, but a whole lot more as well.)

        This is a different sort of issue from the abuse story, getting into questions of agency and volition that US society has not, and is unlikely ever to, resolve.

    1. I was wondering about this too. I have watched very little porn in my life, so I can’t say. But would those amongst you who are more familiar with porn — and don’t worry, you can all say, “I’ve heard that …” – say that the “actresses” are faking it, or not? I know there is a thing called a (male) money shot, but is there a female version of filmed orgasms? And if so, could that be faked too?

      Not our usual dry topic today (hahaha – bad pun intended!) But, I didn’t bring this up, so, somebody answer me.

      1. from my reading of blogs by people in the industry and interviews of actresses, the greatest probability for seeing filmed female orgasms will be in the lesbian porn industry. some skepticism should be applied though since, just as with the mainstream film industry, interviews and blogs or tweets from actors and actresses are not likely to bite the hand that feeds it.

        1. Interesting. I wonder if lesbian porn at all gets rid of the coercion problem. I’d like to think it might, but, maybe that’s too pollyanna.

          Otoh, I suppose with today’s technology, people can more readily afford to exploit themselves. I guess that must be regarded as progress of some sort.

          1. “. . .with today’s technology, people can more readily afford to exploit themselves. I guess that must be regarded as progress of some sort.”

            i can’t quite put my reasoning in words but i think this has to be the money quote for the whole thread. i almost want to high five you and shout “ftw!”

    1. Well, it’s the holiday season, all the other women besides me must be baking or something. ; >

      It is interesting though that they didn’t bother asking the male actors. I’d be curious to know what the story is there.

  12. The convenience-sample aspect is a big problem here because of the healthy-survivor effect. “Porn star” is typically not a very long career. So any simple method of gathering subjects is going to overrepresent women who are well-adjusted, focused, talented and attractive (for some value of “attractive”) enough to build a career in porn.

    But it also probably doesn’t say much good about the experience of “ordinary” young women in the US.

  13. I would expect them to be healthier and happier. Attractive people are happier and have higher self-esteem. Investigators have shown that the rate of agreement on the level of attractiveness of a given person is astoundingly high within the same culture and time period. Porn stars are attractive or they would not be porn stars. We all pretty much agree on what attractive is. Attractive people are happier and have high self-esteem because everyone is nice to them constantly. How would you feel about yourself if everywhere you went members of the opposite sex either smiled at you or turned away quickly because they did not want to be caught looking at you, while members of your own sex either show the same attraction or more likely show some kind of deference to you. We all embrace the just-world hypothesis in some ways no matter how careful we are. Attractive people see themselves as charismatic members of a smiling, sexy, warm society. Unattractive people simply do not receive the same amount of pleasantness for others. As for healthier, highly social and happy people have been shown to enjoy better health outcomes than their unhappy peers. None of this is the least bit surprising to me. Unattractive people want to believe that they will be happier in adulthood than an attractive person because they are building character and personality because things do not come easily to them and they see the world for what it really is, etc. Really, thats bullshit. Attractive people have it better. The sweet but awkward bespectacled girl only ends up with higher self-esteem than the cheerleader when she “blossoms” and the cheerleader’s bloom fades. Otherwise, the bookish girl with the heart of gold gets screwed by human weakness and folly for life. Same is true for men, maybe slightly less so for evolutionary reasons.

  14. I should add that average men are attacked by the unfairness of the mating system in two ways. Plutocrats limit their financial virility while more attractive men outshine them in perceived sexual virility. A poor hot girl is still going to do well in the dating game. A rich unattractive man might also do well. Poor, unattractive men have basically 0 chance of marrying outside of their attractiveness band. I say this to point out that men are not the only evil actors in the human mating game. Women are equally fickle and pathetic.

    1. We’re getting well away from the topic here, and student is letting his bitterness show. (Don’t worry, dude we’ve all been there, and I sympathize.)

      However is his point IS very well taken.
      For some reason the OBSESSION that women have with male height is always given a pass — men are shallow for wanting large breasts or a pretty face, but it’s taken as reasonable that women want height. This height obsession is obvious if you can any dating site.
      But that’s passé. What’s more interesting is that an increasing phenomenon in the US is “sophisticated” women who are so entitled, so insistent that they shouldn’t have to compromise, that they are finding themselves reaching forty or even fifty alone and with very few options. This is discussed in _Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough_ which alternates between the author’s own life experiences and a more general, statistical discussion of the issue.

      Finally, some advice for student.
      (a) There will always be the insane contingent of females in your cohort, for whom no-one is good enough (see above). But there are also plenty of sane women.

      (b) The sane women will realize, in time, that what’s really important to them is that you make them feel safe, and that you can be relied upon. Both of those are under your control. And both of those are yours to blow. For example:
      If you say you will pick her up at the airport, damn well get there on time. There is ALWAYS traffic. Flights have a history of sometimes arriving early. Use the internet to see when her flight will land, and to check traffic levels, and GET THERE ON TIME. That’s part of what being reliable means — that you act like a competent adult, using the tools available to you, to deal with uncertainty.
      Just hang in there for a few more years, and work on making yourself a better human being. If you ARE a decent male, you’ll be fine. Of course, if you want to spend your life smoking weed and playing video games, while expecting to find a woman who will cook for you and do your laundry, good luck with that dream…

      1. I’ve never understood the obsession with height either. And it *is* common, though certainly not universal.

        I think he could find someone to wait on him while he potsmokes, actually. IF he makes her feel loved and attractive and secure, and really, maybe even not all three of those. There are a lot of women with low self-esteem who don’t ask for much.

        But of course … those aren’t the ones men want, are they?

      2. I have to say, I am not sure I agree with most of this. I do agree that there are a lot of people, men and women, walking around with a list of attributes they think they want.

        I’m just not sure it correlates with how they act.

    2. I gather you are one of those evolutionary psych types. From where I sit, things aren’t nearly so simple, though I do think there is much truth in what you say. Just, not the whole truth.

      I would just note that attractiveness really isn’t as simple as you think, at least not for women. I know lots of women who are attracted to men who haven’t a sou, *if* they have other good qualities. You may not believe it, but it’s true. What I see as more of a problem is that, for many women, it is difficult to love a man who lacks confidence, who doesn’t think he has anything to offer. And since we live in a country that worships money, well, that creates a barrier for non-holding men. And of course, lacking confidence also handicaps men and women in the work world too. So. Yes, I agree, we humans are a troubled lot. And this is just one tiny slice of the complications that ensue out in the wild. It’s not enough to be symmetrical, or rich, in real life.

      1. Here I commit the sin of reply to myself, which I do much too often.

        Confidence always reminds me of this Scripture, “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/matthew/25/

        The concept of self-worth or self-esteem, this question we each have inside, of what am I worth? How should I be treated? This question is at the heart of my issues with porn and with all prostitution. It is why I believe it is almost always wrong to partake in it. It’s not the sex itself. I think it’s what these study authors must have been aiming at. And it’s relevant to men too, as they date (or try to). (I’ve had male friends tell me that women asked them what car they drove!!! Literally. I told them, be polite, stay five minutes more, then leave. Or, actually complain – but most won’t.)

        Another way to say it is, what is a man? How does a man treat someone who is weaker than him? And isn’t that what separates him from “guys?”

        1. Yes I feel that evolutionary psychology has a great deal of valuable thought in it. Women prefer tall, confident men with nice cars for the same reason people prefer fat and salt to fiber. That the wiring is either no longer relevant (tall men) or is downright dangerous (double cheeseburger) is itself irrelevant, they are wires and they move information.

          1. Well, again, I’m not saying you’re wrong. There is some truth in ev psych.

            Otoh. I had a friend who used to drive a Porsche, mostly because he had an engineer’s mind, and a little because he thought it would attract chicks. After a while he realized that the car wasn’t getting him any play, even in LA. He switched to a Volvo, which signaled he was a solid guy looking to settle down. I still don’t know if he got any chicks from that, exactly, but I do know he ended up very happily married.

            A car is a depreciating asset. Having a nice one means nothing, to women over the age of 25. But, again … are those the ones men are after, I ask?

        2. I sometimes try to get women who have a serious height preference to make fun of right-wing survivalist types. The irony is profound.

    3. one thing i have found women to respond to, and something that really can’t be faked, is being comfortable in one’s own skin. no matter how well you think you’re hiding insecurities about your looks or bank account or how well you think you’re faking self-confidence if you aren’t comfortable with the person you are it’s going to come through and it won’t be pretty. i am not in any sense conventionally attractive–overweight, bald except for a ponytail, smokers teeth– but i am considered charismatic by most of the women i know. there’s nothing wrong with being an acquired taste as long as you are a real human being and willing to risk being a real human being.

    4. Oh man I think y’all may have read a little more into what I wrote than I intended. Basically, I ain’t even mad tho. I am very happy with my romantic situation, have in fact never been happier, and it has been getting better and better every week for several years. I am not deeply worried about my ability to earn money in this world. All I meant to say was that if you look under the hood at what actually drives self-esteem in most people, you find that it makes a whole lot of sense that pornstars would tend to be happy, whether or not they actually are. I got on to mate selection because it is a convenient subject if you want to talk about the myths our society perpetuates about how level of attractiveness is not important. I do not think my remarks demonstrate my bitterness so much as they show that I read and accepted the studies described in the book my social psychology professor had us buy. I am not any more bitter about mate selection patterns than I am about the Milgram experiment. Why weed and video games? Is it my name or the way I showed my age in my post?

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