Meet Mercedes Carrera: Gamergate’s Porn Star Patron

Patrick Bissett | Freelance Journalist

Politics has a well-deserved reputation for being boring. The very word evokes old gray men slumped half-asleep in parliament, roused only to argue along the tired lines of party allegiances. There is truth to the stereotype, but politics isn’t always dull; sometimes, politics is vibrant and interesting, especially when unlikely groups coalesce around issues of mutual interest, or against mutual enemies.

One need only look at how feminists and the religious right came together to tackle pornography and sex work, or how Common Core mandates inadvertently brought together the left-leaning teachers’ unions and the conservative tea party movement.

What makes these coalitions interesting is that they all seek the same goals, albeit for different reasons. In the case of feminists and pornography, it’s about stopping perceived exploitation whereas those with religious motives want to get rid of sexual immorality. The tea party want an end to the Common Core because they see it as unwarranted intrusion by an interfering government. The teachers’ unions want it to go away because they’re worried about losing power and influence.unnamed (3)

Another unlikely alliance has recently developed with porn actress Mercedes Carrera joining ranks of Gamergate. Carrera was angered at the attacks by feminists and activists on gamers and saw the media’s portrayal of the debate as inaccurate. As a porn star she too has seen her profession come under sustained attack by feminists, so while the alignment with Gamergate might at first blush seem odd, it was a natural one for the actress.

Carrera was born in southern California, the eldest of two children. Her early childhood was punctuated by frequent moves due to her father’s job as a civilian military contractor. But while there were often new surroundings, new schools and homes to get used to, Carrera doesn’t see her childhood as anything unusual. “I come from a lower-middle class background, there were struggles, just like everybody else,” she says. “My dad was an alcoholic, my mother was something of a narcissist—but when you get down to it, dysfunction is normal in so many families—there’s no such thing as a perfect family life.”

Carrera’s manner is disarmingly forthright. She talks about her early life with detached frankness and faint melancholy. There are very few taboo subjects for her, but she is also keen to draw boundaries on certain topics. “I don’t want people to think of me as a victim” she says, “dealing with dysfunction gave me coping skills to get through life; it made me resilient.”

No sooner has the word resilient left her mouth than she sets off on a whirlwind of tangential observations and thoughts. Before I can formulate a follow up, she’s already tackling another issue, and then quickly another. Carrera talks fast and thinks fast. She sees patterns and connections far quicker than the average person, an ability she attributes to her Asperger’s syndrome. Her thoughts seem to fire at random, but they are coherent; it’s possible to follow along.unnamed (1)

Still on the concept of resilience, she riffs on her family life, her school years, pornography, and finishes up by laying the smackdown on her ideological opponents — SJWs and feminists. “Personal responsibility is a really bitter pill for them to swallow, really bitter,” she says. “It’s much easier to set up a villain or blame life experience. In feminism they’ll compare, they’ll say ‘well that woman never got any mean emails and I did therefore I’m a victim.’ This is my frustration with women’s groups — everything is everybody else’s fault. It’s okay to say ‘all men are pigs or all men are x, y, and z,’ but let’s not talk about how you may have contributed to that problem in your relationship.”

Personal responsibility is a defining motif for Carrera, and one she returns to repeatedly during our conversations. “We all get to make the choice every single day about who we want to be. Lots of things have happened in my life and I could tell you victim stories for days — but that’s not happening right now. Right now I’m safe and happy and life is good. I have a job that is entertaining and fulfilling so I choose to wake up and say ‘this is the royal flush that I’ve given myself.’”

A big part of that positive outlook stems from a rewarding career, although porn was never Carrera’s only option. There are positions as a technical trainer and an aerospace engineer on her resume. But for now at least, pornography is where she feels happiest. “It’s fun — it’s really fun work. I think people malign it because it makes them uncomfortable,” says Carrera. “But my personality fits in porn because a lot of the people there have a rebellious streak. I hate bullshit [so] even if I stayed in aerospace, I’m sure I would have got in all kinds of trouble … corporate isn’t the life experience I want. I don’t want to die and have on my headstone “she did a really great job buttering up upper management.”

Such an outcome is, of course, highly unlikely. Carrera’s outspokenness makes her a terrible candidate for corporate schmoozing. It was, after all, her self-confessed inability to “keep my mouth shut” that led to her streaming an intensely angry, but nonetheless heartfelt video earlier this month where she called out feminists for their indifference to the alleged rape and assault of porn actress Cytherea.

She berated feminists for valuing faux victims over those truly in need, and was scathing in her criticism of Anita Sarkeesian. “People could identify with the video because they felt the same frustration. A lot of men feel silenced because they can’t tell Anita Sarkeesian to f*ck off because that’s considered misogynistic. So I’ll do it. They’re going to call me a misogynist? That’s stupid.”

Carrera lent her efforts to a fundraiser in benefit of Cytherea and her family only to have her motivation called into question. The accusations of profiteering echoed earlier criticism that her involvement with Gamergate was little more than a cynical ploy to raise her profile. “They can attack me all day long but they know nothing. My friends say I’m the most bleeding heart libertarian you’ll ever meet,” she says, shrugging at the seemingly incongruous characterization. “I used to donate 15 hours a week at a hospice, I sat with dying people.”

In fairness to Carrera, it is an accusation bereft of any real substance. Carrera founded and runs The Porn Charity which in partnership with The Fine Young Capitalists (a volunteer group that works with underrepresented groups in STEM) raised $11,280 earlier this year to help fund STEM scholarships in the United States and Canada. Carrera’s charitable credentials, embedded as they are in her own personal experiences are clearly legitimate. Yet, her motivation is still questioned. Her accusers are people who not only oppose Gamergate, but also what she does for a living. To Carrera, the reason for the opposition is obvious: “They don’t want to be wrong [and] they don’t want dissent. We’re living in a feminist society that supports them.”

Carrera has ample experience in dealing with such resistance, and she does a good job at playing it off, for the most part. But it’s clear that some of the barbs are hurtful.unnamed (2)

As we  end our discussion and thoughts shift to the future, her mood darkens a little. A relentless realist, she doesn’t see cause for optimism for a society underpinned by a feminist framework. “The fact that we live in a society where we are afraid to speak concerns me. Now that we see progressive and über-conservatives closing off that horseshoe, it’s troubling. I feel that I’m living in the time where I’m watching Rome fall; I grew up hearing stories about sedition and McCarthyism so I don’t hold any delusions that there was more freedom at another time. However, when people get too comfortable they allow legislation to remove whatever freedoms they have left.”

Right now, it is unclear what a resolution to the Gamergate controversy will look like; perhaps Gamergate will go down in history as the movement that finally shone a light on feminist hypocrisy that was too bright to ignore. Or maybe feminists and SJWs will prevail with Gamergate relegated to the relative anonymity of archived web pages. As the two sides continue to clash, and with no end is sight, it’s impossible to know what will happen.

But perhaps there’s a third way where feminists, SJWs, and gamers manage to co-exist. And who knows, maybe in years from now some unforeseen circumstances will bring these irreconcilable enemies together to face a common foe.

Stranger things have happened. What we can be certain of, however, is that wherever the name Gamergate is mentioned, the name Mercedes Carrera won’t be too far behind.

Tags : gamergate mercedes carrera patrick bissett
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