Billie Eilish Goes on Stigmatizing Anti-Porn Tirade on Howard Stern's Show

Billie Eilish Goes on Stigmatizing Anti-Porn Tirade on Howard Stern's Show

NEW YORK — Pop singer Billie Eilish went on an anti-porn tirade during her appearance yesterday on "The Howard Stern Show," where she made stigmatizing comments about sex workers' bodies.

“As a woman, I think porn is a disgrace,” Eilish told Stern. “I used to watch a lot of porn, to be honest. I started watching porn when I was, like, 11.”

Eilish, who turns 20 this weekend, then added, “I think it really destroyed my brain and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn.”

The singer's comments have already been magnified by anti-porn media, like Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, the U.K.’s Daily Mail and conservative women’s website Evie Magazine, as part of their customary War on Porn propaganda pieces.

Today, several sex workers and advocates condemned Eilish’s statements via social media, highlighting the act of blatant erasure and dehumanizing of adult performers’ bodies, which the singer said were not what “women’s bodies look like.”

Eilish's 'Porn Addiction' Notions

Eilish's framing of her personal experience with adult content appeared to endorse debunked War on Porn myths about “porn addiction” affecting the brain like a substance, rather than being like any other obsessive-compulsive behavior. 

“It got to a point where I couldn’t watch anything else unless it was violent; I didn’t think it was attractive,” she told Stern.

Eilish also blamed “porn” for negative personal sexual experiences and her difficulty with setting boundaries once she became sexually active.

“I was a virgin,” she told Stern. “I had never done anything. And so, it led to problems — the first few times I had sex, I was not saying 'no' to things that were not good. It was because I thought that’s what I was supposed to be attracted to.”

“I’m so angry that porn is so loved,” Eilish said, seemingly blaming sexual content for her own feelings of shame and guilt. “And I’m so angry at myself for thinking that it was okay.”

Eilish’s comments then took a turn in the direction of stigmatizing the bodies of adult performers, echoing the myth popularized by mainstream media about the supposed differences between the sexual organs of adult performers and those of "normal" women.

“The way that vaginas look in porn is fucking crazy,” said Eilish, who has no medical or sexual health training. “No vaginas look like that. Women’s bodies don’t look like that. We don’t come like that.”

Only a Pawn in the 'War on Porn' Game

Less than 24 hours after Eilish’s appearance, several anti-porn media outlets, including tabloids that routinely shame and stigmatize sex workers, had framed her comments in term of War on Porn talking points and myths.

Today, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post headlined “Billie Eilish began watching porn at 11: ‘It really destroyed my brain’” and the U.K.’s Daily Mail headlined “'I Started Watching Porn at 11': Billie Eilish says exposure to X-Rated material 'destroyed' her brain and ruined her first sexual experiences.”

The Post’s article cited a doctor who treats the supposed illness of “porn addiction,” who made the disputed claim that porn “totally colors [young men’s] perception of what normal sexuality is supposed to look like and it changes the way they think that they’re supposed to interact. They can begin seeing other people as sex objects as opposed to human beings.”

Researchers Pushing the 'Porn is a Drug' Myth

The Post also quoted Ziv Cohen, described as a “clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Cornell University,” who made the discredited argument that “people have to realize that internet pornography is not a harmless pastime. It might be the most addictive drug we have today.”

The claim that watching porn is “like a drug” is a central myth of anti-porn crusaders — many of whom are religiously motivated — and is considered unscientific by unbiased writers on the subject.

Brad Salzman, of the New York Sexual Addiction Center, made the claim that “there are three components that make porn addictive, none of which existed 20 years ago: It’s totally accessible, totally anonymous and totally affordable — or free. There’s an unlimited supply in any flavor you want.”

Salzman endorsed the disputed view that porn works in a supposed gateway/slippery-slope model where viewers’ habits “have to become more frequent, more extreme, more risky — people have to keep turning-up the volume. That’s why people drift into categories they never would have gotten into in the first place — to chase the high.”

Salzman’s argument that watching porn is comparable to the “high” of an addictive drug, and the claim that people are not responsible for their own choices of content, is not backed by scientific research — though research has been able to correlate self-described feelings of “porn addiction” with prior religious indoctrination or shame-based understandings of sexuality.

The Fox News of Women's Magazines

Meanwhile, Evie Magazine, a conservative women’s magazine that caters to the “tradwife” demographic, reported on the Eilish interview in keeping with its ongoing obsession with writing about Eilish’s sexuality by supposedly criticizing others’ obsession with Eilish’s sexuality.

Evie Magazine has been criticized for platforming voting conspiracy theories and Q-Anon talking points, but is regularly indexed by Google News as a trusted outlet.

The Evie writer noted that “Eilish’s comments align with a recent discussion between Jada Pinkett Smith and Gwyneth Paltrow on 'Red Table Talk' about how porn is harmful to women and ‘has really messed us up.’”

Sex Workers, Advocates React to Eilish's Stigmatizing Statements

Several sex workers and advocates took to social media today to point out the harmful effects of Eilish’s statements.

”Constantly hearing from critics that my body, that all porn bodies, ‘aren't real’ is one of the more dehumanizing aspects of making porn,” tweeted sexual health scholar and sex worker Valerie Webber.

FSC CEO Michelle LeBlanc quoted Webber’s tweet and added, “Real porn is more inclusive of real bodies than any other type of media. The sensationalized stories of ‘damaging’ porn perpetuate outdated stereotypes.”

Performer Dresden frustratedly commented, “Okay Billie i guess my labia & my body ‘don’t exist’ cuz you deemed it so.”

Another performer, Jane Burgess, opined that Eilish needs to recognize that porn is for adults, that it is not sex ed, and that “you cant blame bad sex on a fantasy ... Bad sex is normal if you arent with the right partner.”

Sex worker Azura Rose provided much-needed context in her reply to Eilish.

“‘No vaginas look like that?’ —  uh, yeah they do? It isn't CGI," Rose tweeted. "Do all vaginas look like specifically mainstream studio porn? Not really. But the issue isn't porn, it's that sex-ed doesn't exist, media literacy doesn't exist and there's extra censorship on queer porn.”

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