After her adult charity event with Able Gamers got shut down I reached out to Mercedes Carrera to give her side of the story. A former STEM engineer, current adult film actress and outspoken GamerGate advocate, TechRaptor speaks to Carrera about her experiences as a women in these industries.
You have worked in both STEM and erotica, two industries which are associated with misogyny or patriarchy. What were your experiences in regards to that and your work? Why did you decide to change from one to the other?
My experiences in STEM and "porn" all relate directly to the common denominator in all my experiences: me. Therefore, I do not experience the world as a victim but rather as an opportunity to learn and better myself. I have experienced my challenges and struggles as a part of life and particularly in STEM I never experienced “misogyny” or “patriarchy”. Many corporations are, nowadays especially, very female friendly due to the valiant efforts of first and second wave feminism. Additionally, particularly in engineering and technology, I worked in merit based environments. Now, that’s not to say I always succeeded in such environments, but my lack of success was directly related to my capacity and work ethic, not a result of my gender. In reality I was doing well in corporate America but the restrictions were not preferable so I went into doing freelance production. From there I kind of fell into doing adult film work as a one off event (I had continued modeling on and off during that time as well).
Why did you choose the STEM industry originally? And what advice would you give to women who are looking into going into STEM?
My father was a technician and mechanic and I grew up in garages fixing things. Because we were not a higher income family and my father in particular had grown up in poverty, we generally fixed cars or objects repeatedly rather than buying new ones. I learned to use most tooling at a young age and it was common that I was assigned labor tasks around the house. As a result I developed a decent aptitude and capacity for that kind of manual labor and my interest in how things worked was deeply embedded in my psyche. Initially I actually wanted to study physics or astronomy, but the nature of the job market pushed me into manufacturing engineering. From there I secured an internship in aerospace engineering, stayed there for about 4 years, and later worked in telecommunications.
My advice would be: pursue a profession you love regardless of what you are told about the “job market” or “industry”. Passion for one’s work is one of the most important cornerstones of happiness. A very successful mentor of mine had had over five careers in his lifetime because he always pursued his passions, and I believe that is a life well lived.
You have been very outspoken about GamerGate. What made you take up the cause, and why is it so personal for you?
My perception of the consumer revolt that has aligned under GamerGate: I believe GamerGate now not only represents ethics in gaming journalism, but also the ongoing fight for free speech and liberty. When people are being silenced by cabals, be they totalitarians or “PC” social commentators, that is censorship. And as a supporter of free speech and liberty, I see that not only are gamers fighting for fair and equitable treatment by gaming journalists, they are also fighting for their voices to not be silenced. We see now social critics who are not gamers such as Anita Sarkeesian using gaming as a platform to push their social agenda of censorship, and I believe that more of us on the side of liberty must speak out lest we be silenced forever.
I have heard you say that feminist critics do not speak for you as a woman. Do you feel that many feminist critics attempt to speak for all women and why is this a problem?
I have found that many of the feminist critics are the most outspoken on things that they know nothing about. Take for example their stories that all women in STEM are subject to misogyny, or the idea that only men enjoy sexually empowered female characters: those are perceptions borne of the minds of sex-negative women who largely do not work in the STEM fields. They also critique pornography as though all porn actresses are sex slaves devoid of agency or self determination. As a conscious and willing participant in the field, I find this to not only be insulting but much more condescending than any supposed misogyny I should have experienced in any of my careers. There is often also a passive aggressive tone to the 3rd wave radfem critique of women who disagree- as though our voices must be dismissed as we obviously are either tools of the patriarchy or have “internalized misogyny”. Again, all highly insulting, condescending and most of all, inaccurate. It’s a great shame that they claim to support empowered women, but when a woman points out the glaring inaccuracies of their ideology she is quickly dismissed.
Which environment do you feel is the most "female friendly": STEM, the adult industry or Gaming?
That’s a tough call- I believe STEM environments are most friendly to inquisitive and hard workers, regardless of gender. In actuality the corporations are so careful now to avoid sexual harassment cases that in some ways it is prohibitive to be a female in such environments. For example, as an intern during my engineering rotation, it was understood that I was not to be left “alone” with men lest they harass me. Now, I worked with some of the nicest engineers so it wasn’t that they were a risk but that there had been a lawsuit prior regarding such things. As a result, there were times when it was difficult for me to learn if there was only one other male technician or engineer scheduled in the lab as I got less time with mentorship. "Porn" is very female friendly from a compensation standpoint. Also there are many successful and empowered women within the adult industry. However many of the female performers are quite young and leave the industry rather than grow it into a full career. So it depends largely on the person and their goals. However a dedicated and responsible woman in the adult industry can be quite successful and well compensated for her contribution. Additionally there are multiple ways to leverage such a career into other goals, plus having free time and a high wage affords the performers tremendous freedom.
As for gaming, never having worked as a developer I cannot speak to that side of the industry (although what I’ve heard of it sounds quite similar to my engineering experiences). However, as a player and participant I’ve found the gaming industry to be quite female positive and accepting. I’ve never experienced misogyny from gamers as a group at all. In fact, many of the male gamers are currently choosing to play empowered female characters such as Bayonetta in their free time, which speaks to the acceptance gamers have to gaming protagonists of both genders.
Congratulations on your charity event for The Fine Young Capitalists. Do you think you'll be working together again?
Those of us at The Porn Charity were quite pleased at the outcome of the event in coordination with The Fine Young Capitalists. They are managing and administering the scholarship fund we created with and for them, so our relationship will be ongoing. At this moment we do not have any plans for a future event together, but I greatly enjoyed our collaboration and hope we are able to collaborate again with them in the future!
We are currently in the development and planning stages for our next event. Details will be forthcoming, but we plan to address issues in the adult industry, female wellness and safety and an ongoing support of students in the STEM fields.
Techraptor would like to thank Mercedes for taking the time to talk to us. You can find her on twitter.
What are you experiences as a woman in these fields? Leave your comments below.