Deep Throat. Porn Star? Or Victim?

Deep-Throat-Poster1Lovelace, staring Amanda Seyfried, comes out this weekend. Seyfried plays Linda Lovelace, a porn star who famously played a woman with a clitoris inside her throat. So she LOVES giving head in Deep Throat.

Nora Ephron checked out the film when it came out in the 70s, approaching it with an open mind. But when a hollow glass dildo was inserted inside Linda’s vagina and filled with Coca-Cola, Ephron felt both humiliated and terrified, worried the glass might break. Guys chided her for overreacting, calling the scene “hilarious.” So she asked Linda about it. Her response?

I totally enjoyed myself making the movie. I don’t have any inhibitions about sex. I just hope that everybody goes to see the film… (and) loses some of their inhibitions.

That was then. Years later Linda wrote a memoir that told a very different story, entitled, “Ordeal.”

Her ordeal began when she complained to a friend, Chuck Traynor, about her parent’s restrictions and he offered her a small apartment. But once she moved in Chuck turned from sweet to menacing. He kept a nonstop eye on her and tortured her unless she did everything he said — with the “appropriate” emotional response — including prostituting herself.

Once she cried while being gang banged by five men, which left one customer refusing to pay. She never cried again.

The torture included Chuck Traynor raping and beating her, putting a gun to her head, forcing water up her rectum with a garden hose, and isolating her from all normal human contact. By the time she escaped (after three unsuccessful tries) she suffered rectal damage and permanent injury to the blood vessels in her legs.

360_deep_throat_1027One thing Linda learned thru these tortures was to receive a full-length penile plunge without gagging. And as Linda gave head to a lineup of men, a porn producer got the idea for Deep Throat.

The movie was remarkably successful as the first X-rated film to attract a mainstream audience of both men and women. Why so popular?

While the producer – whom Linda had been forced to sexually service – complained that she wasn’t “blonde with big boobs,” her everyday look gave the sense that even the girl next door might have sex like a porn star.

But also, as Gloria Steinem explained in Ms. Magazine,

Literally millions of women seem to have been taken to Deep Throat by their boyfriends or husbands… so that each one might learn what a woman could do to please a man if she really wanted to… See how she’s smiling? See how a real woman enjoys this?

Even though no real woman has a clitoris in her throat. And even though Linda was acting.

In fact, porn stars don’t necessarily enjoy what’s happening on screen. Like Linda, some of them don’t even want to be there. So porn is a terrible place to learn about women’s sexuality.

Turning to Chuck Traynor and his ilk, you have to wonder how anyone can be so selfish as to care so little about others in the pursuit of their desires, monetary or sexual.

Ms. Loveless says she is glad that snuff films – in which women are murdered after sex – were not being made while she was doing porn, or she would be dead.

Source:  Gloria Steinem, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on August 7, 2013, in feminism, objectification, pornography, psychology, sex, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I’m sure there are some porn actors out there who are happily engaged in their chosen profession – but, for every one of those, how many are on the ‘other’ side of the equation?

    Too many, I’m sure.

  2. Friendly Factchecker

    If it helps at all, snuff films don’t exist. http://www.snopes.com/horrors/madmen/snuff.asp

    Other than that, nice article. :)

  3. All I can add here is I was watching an interview about this film on “The Daily Show” and in it they commented that somewhere Linda Lovelace said every time she was penetrated in this film, it was an act of rape. Have not seen the film or read that quote elsewhere, so not sure about it. What I do know is it affected me profoundly to hear that.

  4. Such a sad, but not surprising, story. I’m glad the true story was exposed. I don’t even want to think about how many women are suffering this “captivity” today.

  5. It’s astounding how insensitive people can be when they believe they have something to gain by taking power and choice away from others. They think that a few moments of pleasure for them are worth a lifetime of scars, guilt, and regret of another. It just doesn’t make sense to me. There is no way you can justify that.

  6. I believe Linda’s account of her maltreatment at the hands of Chuck Traynor, but it touches on an issue which has been of concern to me on a number of occasions.

    From an ethical point of view, we consider that a competent adult (by which I mean an adult who is able to make free choices and understands their consequences) is the best judge of their own best interests.

    In this circumstance, when Nora Ephron contacted Linda, Linda’s response seemed overtly that of a competent adult making choices in her own best interests. Perhaps Nora didn’t buy it; even knowing what I know in retrospect, Linda’s response seems too glib, too unrealistic.

    So how do we approach the circumstance where we openly ask a question of another human being, they respond in a way which seems ostensibly reasonable and ethically competent, but we doubt their word? Perhaps we doubt their word because in their position we would choose differently. Perhaps we doubt their word because we feel they may be compelled to respond in a certain way (in other words, we think they are not truly free to make their own choices).

    Sometimes we may be right in our doubts, and sometimes we may be wrong. Rightly, the law protects people, meaning that we need to take them at their word (in other words, it’s not OK for me to overrule another competent adult’s judgment about their own best interests, no matter how benign my intentions). On the other hand, this protection is a double-edged sword, protecting those who constrain others’ choices forcibly.

    In this specific case, my question is: how could an outside observer determine that Linda’s viewpoint was not her free choice? What could an outside observer do about that? What intereference (if any) was warranted? And in a more general case, how can we as a society give a freer voice to women, who may make statements whose freedom we doubt? Is there any place for a paternalistic position? (“I know you say that, but you can’t seriously mean it, as no sensible person would feel that way, so I am going to overrule you”).

    No easy answers.

    Vivienne.

  7. I had gone to see that movie, knowing nothing about her, other than that she was in one of the most famous porn movies ever made. I also know that Amanda Seyfried chooses excellent roles, but I was not prepared for what the movie ‘Lovelace’ was truly about. If there is one thing that scares me about being a woman, it’s forced prostitution and/or anything pertaining to forced & unwanted sexual acts. Just like the movie ‘Taken’, but without the unrealistic ‘James Bond’ father.

    No one was there to help her throughout the many years of pain/torture and her own Mother told her that “good women stick with their men, no matter what happens”. I’m just grateful that she got out at all and that she went on to protest & fight for other women’s rights, bringing light to a very dark subject. It astounds me that people out there like Mr. Traynor exist, because I was raised around men who weren’t capable of such things. Not that women aren’t capable of being in on something this horrid & despicable, mind you.

    Pertaining to the snuff films, as much as there is no market officially out there, I wouldn’t doubt the existence of at least one. Discreetly made under the table for top dollar for those with a sick fantasy/fascination. Women go missing all the time, who’s to say that some poor girl/woman didn’t pass on in this fashion? But for the sake of sanity and based on what people say in articles/research, I’ll accept that they may not exist…

  8. I think it is a very interesting article. As a female, my boyfriend had also made me to do the “Deep Throat” thing to him but I cannot see any point or meaning in it so I refuse to do so. I have no idea who made this up: putting a penis into women’s mouth, and I get to know this after reading this article. Frankly speaking, I think it is actually quite humiliating to ask a person to suck another person’s sexual organs roughly. It is just the pornography that make men feel like they have to do this in order to dominant a woman.

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