By Jennie-Louise Kendrick
Sep 28, 2018

Ethical Porn

Lonely Tarts Club

Freerange fucking on film. 

One of the contentious elements of pornography, on the whole, is how it can influence people’s perception of what sex between consenting adults looks like, or what a sexy body looks like. 

Plenty of people want to produce porn, just as there’s plenty of people who want to engage in sex work. There’s a huge division between professional actors, like Mia Khalifa and Alexis Texas, and the exhibitionist couple from the town over. There’s lots of horrid stuff that happens on the web and is proliferated due to it, but there’s also the propensity for regular people to put their smut out there; to produce the porn they want to see. The direct to consumer process of uploading to a site like Pornhub means there is no policing of who gets to make porn; provided it involves sexual acts by consenting adults. 

Feminists stuck in the second wave will shout from the rooftops that pornography is unrealistic, sexist and promotes violence against women. This argument is plausible, and, in some cases, true. Mainstream porn often caters to the cisgender male gaze, spewing out fantasies of barely legal teens (read: because watching porn made by someone 17 years and 364 days old would be illegal, but an 18th birthday justifies a predilection for youthful girls), stepsiblings banging (read: not-technically-incestuous-incest), and unrealistic bodies (read: they’ve got breast implants so they’re not “real” women, right?). To argue that porn is inherently bad would be ignoring the variety of content available, and cast judgment on those who engage with it. However, to argue that porn is inherently positive would be naïve; many people struggle with porn addictions, porn actors regularly report exploitation, it can tokenise and belittle minority groups, and it can negatively impact young people’s expectations of sex and their sexual partner. But it must be noted that porn is often how people explore their sexuality first; be it for masturbation or research. 

For people with gender dysphoria, seeing trans* bodies and non-binary bodies as sexual and desirable can be powerful. In the episode ‘Porn Idols’ from BBC’s Queer Britain series, Riyadh Khalaf talks to queer porn producers—this show is worth a Google!—from intersectional feminists creating artistic porn to a transwoman who hosts her own cam show and claims that it helped her feel good about her body when beginning hormone treatment. The show also has a vox pops-style montage of queer Britons talking about how they feel about porn. The responses are varied and articulate; touching on issues like tokenism and fetishism of queer people, and queer people of colour, in cisgender, straight-focused blue movies. This argument also works for differently-abled people and people of colour when people can reduce them to a sub-category for men to spank their monkey to. As a society, we need to support amateur porn producers. They are normalising the sex they have by showing others; making it available for people to enjoy and sowing the seed of individualism in a predominantly hegemonic industry. 

People are going to consume pornography no matter what so if there is more inclusive content available—that stresses consent, compassion and representation—then X-rated media could be an excellent tool for people struggling with accepting who they are, what they look like, and how other people perceive them. 

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