Liz Katz may have once been in porn, so what?

Liz Katz

Liz Katz has been an inescapable name these past few days, especially if you spend time on our website. Katz became infamous when her Indiegogo campaign for a new costume raised over $4500, far beyond its initial goal. The story has whirled across the cosplay community and the reaction of the people have been intensely negative.

However, the story and discussion has not ended there. Equally distributed is the likelihood that Liz Katz was an adult film performer named Risi Simms, an allegation which she denies. The Risi Simms comparison is brought up constantly when discussing the morality of Katz actions with her Indigogo efforts though. But why does that matter?

So what if Liz Katz allegedly used to be in pornography? How does that relate to the fact that she asked for public funding to do a photo shoot? The real answer is that it doesn’t, and we should be a little embarrassed at how much people are obsessing over it, although I’m not surprised.

Adult film performers are somewhat of a cultural fascination. We all know that they exist and a vast majority of us are quite familiar with their work. Pornography takes what is an intensely private activity for most, and displays it on the public stage. We are naturally intrigued by behavior that breaks so many social boundaries, yet very few of us actually know any adult film performers on a personal level. This makes it very easy for us to disengage from them as people, and simply see them as the sexual objects that they are portraying themselves as.

That is why, despite the massive global consumption of pornography and the vast cultural acceptance of its existence, people who work in the adult industry are still seen as “bad people.” Think of every stereotype you know of people who work in pornography that does not have to do with physical characteristics. The lists includes undesirable things like having low intelligence, a history of addiction or abuse, and low self-esteem. We see adult performers as being unclean and unable to make a living by conventional means as opposed to “proper” members of society. In general, you do not want to be the kind of person that we believe porn stars are.

There’s an incredible stigma attached to the profession, despite the wide cultural acceptance of pornography consumption in private. Jenna Jameson is a household name, but you would be hard pressed to find many people that genuinely respect her. These stigmas are incredibly harmful and serve as a major hindrance whenever someone tries to leave the adult industry, no matter what new field they are trying to enter. This is being clearly illustrated in the conversation about Liz Katz, and it has been mainly for two reasons.

The first has to do with the social obsession with adult performers and the general tendency to gawk at them as a result. It’s a form of schadenfreude not unlike that behind the popularity of figures like Honey Boo Boo, the modern version of old-timey “freak shows” at travelling circuses. The second is that it is used as a way to further denounce Liz Katz and lay more criticism against her fundraiser as a result, even though the two things are completely unrelated. By accusing Katz of having a history in pornography, commenters are casting her in a role which holds many negative beliefs against it. They’re putting her in that group of “bad people.” And because she’s associated with a group of “bad people,” she must be capable of bad things.

It’s an ad hominem argument, attacking Liz Katz’s character in order to discredit her actions. However, if you’ve ever taken an introductory course in logical reasoning, you know that an ad hominem argument is a logical fallacy. Logically, a person’s character is separate from any argument that they are making. Good people are capable of bad things and vice versa, therefore arguing that someone with a poor character does not discount the value of any one of their actions. A famous example is the fact that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian and extremely good with children. Similarly, one cannot argue that Tiger Woods is not one of the world’s greatest golfers because he had several extramarital affairs. The two subjects are not linked.

The situation is no different with Liz Katz. Even if she did have sex on camera for money in the past as Risi Simms, that has no effect on the scruples of her fundraiser. Therefore, the accusation has no place in a discussion on the fundraiser. End of story.

There has been even further discourse over the fact that Katz has apparently been censoring discussion about her alleged past as best she can, deleting YouTube and Facebook comments that reference it and asking websites to close the comments section of articles where the topic has come up. Katz has faced even further criticism for these actions, but much of the discourse has been problematic.

People say that if you don’t want anyone to know you’re in porn, you shouldn’t be in porn. This is an intensely oversimplified statement that overlooks basic human nature. People make mistakes, and we often regret those mistakes. It’s a natural part of life. To say “if you don’t want people to know you were in porn, don’t be in porn” is akin to saying “you are not allowed to make mistakes.” Nearly half of marriages end in divorce, and yet people still get married. People die in car accidents every day, and yet people still drive. You can fully understand the potential risk of something, still choose to do it, and not be wrong for making that decision. Nobody who enters a new career in pornography starts with the mindset of “I’m going to regret this in 5 years,” just like nobody enters any new career thinking it will end badly for them. But plans fail, people change, and circumstances alter. As always, hindsight is 20/20.

If the allegations against Katz are true, then she’s had the misfortune of making a very public mistake. If she cannot escape it, it will close doors for her for the rest of her life. But let me ask you how fair it is for someone to be completely defined by their mistakes, especially when they didn’t hurt anyone. Risi Simms was an adult performer, not a criminal, not an abuser of children, not anything that cause anyone any real harm. Then why can’t we let it go?

Many are saying that the more Katz fights the allegations, the more people care about them and want to know if they are true. Therefore, by saying, “No, I’m not Risi Simms,” Katz has made more people care about whether or not she is Risi Simms. This may be true, but with everything we know about how people think and what is said about people in the adult industry, can you really blame her? Put yourself in her position for a moment. It may be her past, and she may just be trying to move on, but nobody seems very eager to let her do so.

In the end, I just ask that you remember that no matter what Liz Katz has done on Indiegogo, or how much money she raised, or how many things she’s bought, or how you feel about her photography, it all has nothing to do with a woman who was called Risi Simms.

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