When you think about sex, what comes to mind? A lot of our culture is surrounded and influenced by the images in mass media. Sex seems to be glamorized and influential in music, movies, fashion, magazines and pretty much everything else in today’s age. Remember when gas stations had those black bunny logo covers over Playboy, and adult movies were only found in sex stores if you wanted them? Now all you need is a keyboard, mouse, and the key word you’re looking for to find thousands of websites, and millions of videos all dedicated to sex–some containing amateur porn. Since the dawn of the internet, sex has become the number one sought after item online, and access to it is simpler than ever.

A few weeks ago I came across a documentary on Netflix called Hot Girls Wanted written by Brittany Huckabee, directed by Jill Bauer, and produced by Rashida Jones, whose name you may recognize from the television show Parks and Recreation. Having come out this year (2015) at the Sundance Film Festival and being nominated for the Jury Prize, it shows just how recent the topics in this film are, and how easy it is for the internet to attract young girls into the amateur porn industry merely off of ads and sites like Craig’s List. In the film, this hidden world shows four different girls and their ideas and thoughts about what they want to accomplish, and why they left their small home-towns in the first place.

I have to admit: there were some frightening statistics placed throughout the film on a black screen in between scenes. For instance, “teen” is the number one searched key word in porn. In 2014 alone, abuse web sites averaged 60 million combined hits per month, and 40% of online pornography depicts violence against women. Banners for sites like “18 and Abused” appear on other major porn sites for prominent advertisement. The site “Exploited Teens” has over 700 different amateur porn actresses, promoting a new girl every week, and averaging over $10,000 per day.

Each girl interviewed had different views on abuse in amateur porn, such as facial abuse, forced blow jobs, and extreme oral abuse. One controversial scene happened when two of the girls were watching an interview of Belle Knox, an amateur porn actress who became public about her sex work in order to pay for her tuition at Duke University. Jade, AKA Ava Kelly, spoke up and said that she herself had been in abuse porn. She was on “Latina Abuse,” where race and forced oral inducing vomiting were part of the theme. Her words on the matter were, “I don’t judge anybody. If that’s what floats their boat, they’re watching it on the computer and not going out and doing it to an actual girl.”

Another disturbing  aspect of the industry is that a lot of amateur porn is shot in Miami, Florida instead of California where condoms are required by law. Hot Girls Wanted shows the girls effects of this lifestyle when one girl, Tressa, AKA Stell May, ends up hospitalized to have a vaginal cyst drained from too much sex and douching so often afterwards. Websites like Mofos, Reality Kings, and Bang Bros all take place in Miami and all focus on the “girl next door” underage theme of amateur porn. Sites like these are worth over $50 million dollars, and might use the same actress maybe two or three times only. The shelf life of an amateur ranges from 1 month to 1 year depending on how successful they become. This doesn’t stop girls looking for quick money and an easy escape from their mediocre lives. Each testimony from the actresses was admittance of not wanting to “be stuck” in their town doing the same things their parents did. And often, again, the glamour of the lifestyle that is shown online from porn “stars” convinces young women that they can do the same. Amateurs can earn up to $800 per scene and shoot from 3-5 scenes per week. The money is extremely enticing, and for a “barely legal” teenager, it’s more than they’ve ever seen or could possibly earn doing anything else.

What’s more, themes for some of the scenes in amateur porn, focus on girls being lost, dumb, virgins, or not giving full consent. During one behind the scenes shoot with Rachel, AKA Ava Taylor, the director was heard saying, “ Kind of, without actually getting a yes…”. She later gave an example of flying out to California to do a $300 oral sex scene, and realized during the beginning of filming that it was going to be “forced oral,” in which she says, “I was scared. I didn’t know if I was allowed to leave.” She said it made her see the perspective of a rape victim who feels badly about themselves, and it made her question how much she really wanted the money.

So what do you think about when you think of sex? Do you think of porn? Do you think of abuse and rape? Why is this so popular in sex today? From the view of this documentary, the girls seem excited about beginning a new life and easy money, but then they come to conflicting emotions once something uncomfortable happens. The actresses don’t have a say about the script or their responsibilities in the porn industry as amateur actresses, and have to work through their pain in order to “get big.” Although some girls might see it just as an act to help them move up, it might end up being the difference between sex and rape. (Hot Girls Wanted, 2015).