Back in January, when I was out in Las Vegas for the Adult Video Network (AVN) Awards show, I had the pleasure of sitting down for a chat with Sociologist PhD, Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals. Dr. Chauntelle has been a guest lecturer at the University of Southern California and is an expert in human behavior, with special interest in gender, sexuality, entertainment/pop culture, technology, adult industry/sex work and all topics considered taboo in our society. Her book, Exposure, which is due to hit shelves this July, is about her experience embedded in the sex industry.
In 2006, Dr. Chauntelle began her research of the sex industry by embedding herself in the world of porn. When I asked her why this area interested her, she responded, “Mainstream media gives incorrect, untruths.” Dr. Chauntelle wanted to give real, autobiographical stories, but gathering real research was not without it’s difficulties.
“It’s hard to get inside access because the media tends to vilify the industry, ” she told me when I asked her why she embedded as a sociologist rather than tagging along with media.
Dr. Chauntelle was a student from LA, not a member of the media. She spent 2 years reading AVN, message boards, etc in an effort to gain the trust of the industry as well as access. And it worked! She worked as a production assistant and did some public relations work as well, all to gain research for her dissertation.
As an academic, and not a member of the sex industry, Dr. Chauntelle told me, ” I felt a lot of the stigma the people in the sex industry put up with because of the nature of my work. I had academic panelists not want to be on panels with me, I was constantly questioned about the validity of my work and I lost grant funding for projects.”
Eventually, Dr. Chauntelle left academia, “because I wasn’t making any headway.” She became self-employed and embedded herself in the sex industry full time, writing for Playboy, Men’s Health and UpRoxx.
I asked Dr. Chauntelle what made her so passionate about researching the sex industry that she was willing to give up her life in academia, put her reputation on the line and embed herself full time.
“Because this industry deals with sex, it’s easy to say ‘it’s OK to violate their rights’. Academic publishers would rather lie than provide the truth about the industry. Lying isn’t acceptable in any other area, but because people are so uncomfortable, they lie and give false information.”
I really enjoyed speaking with Dr. Chauntelle. Aside from being open and fun, she’s adorable and comfortable. I can’t wait for her book to come out in July. Hmm… possible summer reading giveaway? Stay tuned!
In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more or read more about the fabulous Dr. Chauntelle, you can find her on Twitter @DrChauntelle and on her website http://www.chauntelletibbals.com/