The first time I had ever interacted with James Deen was in April of 2015 when I sat down to interview him for Project Consent. My impression of him wasn’t anything out of ordinary to what has already been recorded: charismatic, witty, and set in his opinions regarding the topic on hand: consent.
Recently, many have asked me if I had suspected anything out of the ordinary during our hour-long conversation. Truthfully, I didn’t. We asked Deen to do an interview with Project Consent on behalf of himself and the porn industry to which he is a prominent member of. James Deen was well within his rights to refuse association with us. When he accepted the offer, and took the time to express his explicit views on the subject, Deen knowingly put his own name to our work. In many ways, he personally endorsed our mission to end the prevalence of rape culture. Did I suspect that a man who consciously helped our efforts would, eight months later, be accused of sexual assault himself? Absolutely not.
I don’t know James Deen personally. I do not have any sort of inside knowledge prior to what he has already offered in media coverage. Our conversation was brief, but thorough, and it ended on a pleasant note where we exchanged kind words before departing. I would be lying if I didn’t regard the interview as a “good experience,” having left thinking that James Deen just helped solidify our mission.
I am not close enough with James Deen to offer any sort of definitive statement on who he is. But as our work at Project Consent states, we believe victims. We believe that the stigma around sexual assault victims is one that must be ended and we know that less than 2% of all rape claims are false. James Deen is not an ignorant bystander who failed to understand the concept of consent. In the time that these allegations have gone up, Project Consent had taken down the public copy of the interview.
But after a recent breakthrough, we’ve come to the unanimous understanding that the public has a right to know what James Deen, in his own words, said about sexual assault. Some of the more eye raising quotes from the interview come to mind: “If you’re going to make the action of sexually assaulting someone, regardless of the inspiration, you still have to take some personal responsibility that what you did was not okay and you’re going to have to deal with the consequences, which should be pretty hefty.”
We have reuploaded the full article for viewing here. As stated, Project Consent does not endorse the alleged actions of Deen and we fully support all victims of sexual assault.
But even so, the story does not end there. At the time of our initial interview, I had proposed a business idea while we chatted about the values of consent education. I briefly mentioned the idea of a “consent slide” in front of pornography, a brief informative statement that makes it abundantly clear how vital consent must be in sex. Deen had responded favorably of the idea and a few weeks later, the idea was implanted in all of his company’s productions.
James Deen is not an ignorant byproduct of society. Regardless of his silence now, the statements that he made prior to the outbreak of revelations clearly demonstrate a thorough understanding of sexual assault. Project Consent will not take part in the culture that will allow him to brush off these accusations, nor will we endorse the idea that he was uneducated about his alleged actions. We support any and all of victims of sexual assault, inflicted by Deen and others. This is our work and we firmly stand by it.