“The major civilizing force in the world is not religion, it is sex.” Words like this from Hugh Heffner have led to some considering him the ultimate, alternative feminist. Whether you agree or not, it cannot be argued that he was not a sexual revolutionary, which many have not only accepted but welcomed. Offering the opportunity for women to use their bodies for a career, and to do so with pride, is Playboy’s saving grace. So why, 40 years on from when it first started, is society ignoring the death of a porn star.   

Last month, it was revealed that August Ames had chosen to opt out of a performance with an actor who had shot gay scenes in the past. Many female actresses attempt to avoid “crossover” performances due to uncertainty regarding their STI testing history. Many are pressured into doing it anyway.

Ames was almost pushed into a scene with someone she didn’t feel comfortable with, before eventually backing out and tweeting she “does her homework to protect her body”. Something I’m sure we can all understand.   

She was 23 years old. She had been in the porn industry for 4 years, appeared in over 200 movies, been nominated for numerous adult film awards and was without a doubt one of the most famous names in the game. She was Pornhub’s fifth most-watched actress, but she wasn’t enough to be able to pick and choose her roles. Without the internet going into meltdown anyway.  

Ames chose to use her influence and warn the new girls on the block against the dangers involved in porn. The tweets she sent out seemed very blasé about the gay community but it must be remembered it always is hard to go into full detail when using that platform. More importantly, Ames established that just because you are naked and on camera, you ALWAYS have a choice on what you do. No matter what the man behind the lens says.   

Many women will move into porn because they seemingly have nothing else. Ames was making clear that even if you think you have to do something, your body will always be yours to do what you will. Anyone who tries to force you to do otherwise needs to go.  

This brings me onto the second half of this tragic tale, something that the media will be fearful to touch upon. Some of the LGBT community must be held accountable for what Ames went on to do. The torrent of abuse that followed is some of the worst cases of trolling you will ever see, one user actually suggesting she takes a cyanide pill to end it all there and then. They were hunting her down, praying for her to implode.  

Ames eventually decided to take her own life by hanging, proving how much of an effect the words from a small section of society can make. I am of the opinion that those involved consider their words protected due to the recent successes in protecting the LGBT community throughout 2017. Whilst they are making outstanding and deserved progress in protecting their rights this does not give them a get out of jail card in providing abuse themselves.

The vast majority would understand that this spout of hatred was wrong, some seemed to find pleasure in pushing her to the brink.

Just because August was a porn star it does not mean her death is meaningless. And just because the world is finally waking up to help LGBT people, it doesn’t mean we can allow this small fraction to victimise without punishment. They have set a dreadful example for those around them who are truly trying to fight for equality. 

Where was the empathy for her being another of society’s outsiders? Where was the understanding for someone who feels uncomfortable in their own skin? And where was the protection from those who were supposed to be in her corner?  

So some of you might not like that August Ames had sex on camera.  

But she was also a sad girl who was bullied by cowards behind a screen. She would have grown up with countless insults towards how she lived her life but up to this point, she was comfortable with how she used her body. At a minimum, her death must act as a catalyst to giving adult performers more freedom on what they choose to do but, in an ideal world, it should remind us that words really can carry the ultimate consequence. No matter who they are said to.