Is There A Wage Gap In The Porn Industry?

As the gender-wage-gap debate rages on in courtrooms, at pundits’ tables, and on bitter Reddit threads, there’s one idea that has gone unchallenged: Porn is the one industry where women benefit from better pay than their male counterparts.

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It’s treated as a fact, sometimes used to deny that women suffer any systematic wage discrimination at all (see: Reddit), or it’s tossed in as an aside in reports on the adult industry’s fiscal health, such as in this January 2016 CNBC piece on per-day earnings of adult film stars. In 2012, a controversial Equal Pay Day PSA ran in Belgium, featuring porn star Sasha Grey telling women that if they want to earn as much as their male colleagues, they should do porn. But is this even true? 

Locating exact figures is a difficult task since few in the industry like to disclose their salaries, and none of the major studios have been public with pay data. The most reliable estimations come from insiders who inflate or deflate numbers when convenient, or from pieces like the one on CNBC, which surveyed performers and crew members to break down what producers pay per scene. 

The latter bolsters the assumption that women make more than men because, on a scene-by-scene basis, they usually do. Men are paid a fixed rate per scene based on their reputation (gay male porn has a separate pay scale that, for sake of brevity, isn’t explored in this story), while women earn different wages based on their star power and the sex act. For example, an unknown performer filming a girl-on-girl scene might make as little as $300, but if a popular star is involved in double penetration, she can rake in as much as $4,000. Men earn between $500 and $1,200 for the same scene, with the big stars maybe hitting $1,500.

The trouble with relying on these numbers as the sole evidence that women out-earn men is that daily figures don’t account for career opportunities or longevity — two factors that influence potential lifetime earnings and favour men.

Read the full Refinery29 article: http://goo.gl/F9DwLS