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Stop Blaming Christy Mack: Porn Stars Don't Deserve to Be Beaten

Stop Blaming Christy Mack: Porn Stars Don't Deserve to Be Beaten

In his online avatar, MMA fighter Jonathan Koppenhaver (better known as “War Machine”) is wearing a tank top bearing the slogan “I DO ALPHA MALE SHIT.” Right now, that image hangs hauntingly over a Twitter feed in which Koppenhaver reveals that he is running from the police after his ex-girlfriend Christy Mack claimed he had beaten her so badly that she had to be hospitalized.

Mack took to social media (warning: these images are disturbing) on Monday, three days after the alleged attack, to describe the injuries she suffered. Mack claimed that Koppenhaver found her with an unidentified third party, forced her to undress, and proceeded to break 18 of her bones, saw off her hair, knock out several of her teeth, and injure her liver with a kick to the side. A few hours later as Mack was presumably lying in hospital, Koppenhaver simply tweeted: “Hungry…”

As is typical in high-profile cases of sexual assault and domestic violence, the victim-blaming has already begun, spearheaded by Koppenhaver himself. In his most recent tweet, he writes: “I only wish that man hadn’t been there and that Christy and I would be happily engaged. I don’t know why I’m so cursed.” As theCenter for Relationship Abuse Awareness (CRAA) notes, rhetoric like this assumes that “the victim is equally to blame for the abuse, when in reality, abuse is a conscious choice made by the abuser.” Koppenhaver acts as if the beating was inevitable because Christy was with another man even though he actively perpetrated the abuse.

Victim-blaming, as the CRAA describes it, is a particularly dangerous mindset that simultaneously allows abusers like Koppenhaver to disavow responsibility for their behavior while discouraging survivors like Mack from reporting abuse. Even outside observers might be tempted to blame Mack for her own abuse in order to “reassure themselves” that they will not experience abuse “because I am not like her.”

In the particular case of Christy Mack, the victim blaming is taking on an even more defamatory dimension because Mack, as headlines around the web are sure to remind you, is an adult film actress. In virtually every publication from TIME toTMZ she is introduced by the same four words: “porn star Christy Mack.” You might think “porn star” is her first name and not her profession.

Of course Christy Mack’s occupation should not simply be left out of news reports but the way in which her occupation is always in the foreground is troubling. Women in Mack’s occupation are routinely devalued and disrespected because of the nature of their work. Earlier this year, for instance, PayPalChase, and other financial institutions shut down the accounts of clients who work in the adult entertainment industry, citing clauses in their terms of service. And, as the documentary After Porn Ends recently demonstrated, the social stigma of having worked in pornography tends to follow women like Mack long after they have retired from the industry.

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