Skip to main site content.
Maggie Gyllenhaal. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

'Female gaze’

Maggie Gyllenhaal changes her mind on sex work after portraying a prostitute in ‘The Deuce’

By WITW Staff on October 2, 2017

Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as “Candy,” a prostitute and single mother in the prestigious new HBO series The Deuce, which chronicles the rise of pornography in the dangerous and crime-ridden New York of the early 1970s. Taking on the role has changed the way Gyllenhaal thinks about sex work and pornography, she revealed in an interview with The Guardian.  “Somebody asked me the other day whether I thought porn was exploitative or empowering for women,” says Gyllenhaal. “At the time, I didn’t actually know how to answer. Then a couple of days later, I thought, can the answer just be: ‘Yes?’” She explained that in order to get reliable information on the porn and sex work industry, she turned to Annie Sprinkle, a 63-year-old former porn actor and prostitute-turned writer and television presenter, who runs a support group for women from that industry. “She introduced me to this world of women in their 60s who had been, and some of whom still are, involved in sex work,” Gyllenhaal explained. “They all said, ‘Don’t write us off. They said, ‘Yes, there is often an element of damage [in their past].’ But there are a lot of other things too. There’s curiosity, and an actual love of sexuality. And I saw both elements.” Through those meetings, and her experience on the show, she said her views on pornography also changed. “I thought of all pornography the same way, and what I realized is that pornography is an art form. And that there are actresses who are very proud of what they did in pornography,” Gyllenhaal said.

Gyllenhaal also served as a producer on the project, which empowered her to make suggestions and additions to the script. She describes the show as “absolutely, definitely a feminist project,” and takes pride in making a show depicting the “female gaze,” exploring pornography without itself becoming pornographic. “If it turns you on, but then makes you horrified to consider what’s actually turning you on, and what the consequences are for the characters that are turning you on, then it’s a better show,” she explained. “If you’re patting yourself on the back and just thinking how terrible porn is, then it doesn’t make you consider your position as a person in the world right now, and how sex is commodified everywhere today.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


Study finds that 1 out of 3 women watch porn at least once a week

Age men first see porn influences their behavior towards women, study finds

Pamela Anderson issues dire warning against the ‘addictive dangers’ of pornography