Mikaela Spielberg, 23, the adopted daughter of famed director Steven Spielberg and wife Kate Capshaw, made headlines of her own on Wednesday about her new career in film. But you won’t be seeing her directing Oscar-winning movies like her father - she is pursuing a career as a solo porn actress.
With the support of her fiancé Chuck Pankow, 47, she will be posting videos as well as hoping to obtain a license to become an exotic dancer. Despite performing alone, Mikaela’s new career choice raises plenty of questions about the emotional harm sex work has on young women.
What Her Parents Think
Mikaela’s parents have yet to make a public statement about her decision to pursue a career in sex work. In her interview with The U.S. Sun, she claims that they were “intrigued” and “not upset” when she told them of her career change via FaceTime. She says producing solo-porn videos makes her happy, and elaborated, "I got really tired of not being able to capitalize on my body, and frankly, I got really tired of being told to hate my body. And I also just got tired of working day to day in a way that wasn't satisfying my soul. I feel like doing this kind of work, I'm able to 'satisfy' other people, but that feels good because it's not in a way that makes me feel violated."
I feel like doing this kind of work, I'm able to 'satisfy' other people, but that feels good because it's not in a way that makes me feel violated.
As a child, Mikaela experienced trauma, including being “groomed by predators.” She was sent to a boarding school as a teen to help sort out her problems, but that only exacerbated her issues. She has relied on alcohol to deal with her problems in the past, but considers pornography to be a healthier way to cope.
Porn and Mental Health
Mikaela’s childhood trauma led to more mental health issues outside of alcoholism, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and borderline personality disorder. She claims that her new career choice will be empowering and help her mental health, though the data says otherwise.
The porn industry has seen a rise in deaths over the past few years, and they are all attributed to suicides or overdoses. According to a 2012 study, “porn stars did not come from a background of sexual abuse and, in fact, had higher esteem than the normal population.” The suicide rate correlates with social isolation and the short shelf life of a porn actress.
If young women with perfect records of mental health go into the porn industry and eventually commit suicide, the risk for someone with a history of mental health problems must be astronomical.
If young women with perfect records of mental health go into the porn industry and eventually commit suicide, the risk for someone with a history of mental health problems must be astronomical. One could argue that Mikaela could face fewer risks in the industry since she will be performing solo and has the support of her family and fiancé, but the rate of premature deaths amongst porn stars should not be taken with a grain of salt.
You probably asked the same thing I did when I heard this story: why? Why are her parents seemingly okay with her career change? Why did she decide to do this? And most importantly, why does she see this as such an empowering decision? To say that pornography has been normalized is an understatement. It’s everywhere, and as a society, we’ve become desensitized to its exploitation and violence. Porn used to be one of the greatest taboos, and now it’s just a part of everyday life. It’s a sad culture that ignores all of the negative aspects that porn has on society overall.
Mikaela Spielberg’s story is heartbreaking and shocking, but it’s not a unique story. With the normalization of pornography in our culture, more young women are turning to porn as a career. It’s a sad fact of life, but we need to educate others on the dangers of sex work to spread awareness.