Your Go-To Guide On Ethical Porn

//Your Go-To Guide On Ethical Porn
  • Ethical Porn

Your Go-To Guide On Ethical Porn

If you’re living in the 21st century, chances are, you’ve already stumbled upon porn of some sort. Being able to easily access pornographic videos and images has probably changed how an entire generation relates to sex: it’s usually free, it’s fun and it caters to every imaginable fantasy and kink under the sun.

So why all this talk about ethical porn?

What’s wrong with regular porn, after all, it’s just another way to get off, right? Well, it’s not that simple. As sleek and sexy porn may appear on the surface, the porn industry, like most industries today, has a dark side. Famous porn streaming giants like Pornhub have come under fire for hosting child-porn and refusing to take it down. Well-known porn actresses have come out in the post #MeToo era with horrifying stories of consent violations and abuse on set. Revenge porn is an unfortunately common phenomenon, as is the fact that videos of rape and molestation get circulated on porn-sites.

Victims of human trafficking have spoken out about how they were trafficked into the industry, and how videos of them being exploited exist on the internet to this very day. And if you have half a conscience, knowing that the porn you enjoy could have been made by abusing or exploiting a vulnerable human being, would probably put a knot in your stomach.

Any woman entering a mainstream porn-site is aware of the ‘female friendly’ section, which possibly suggests that the other porn on the website isn’t ‘female friendly.’ Porn sites are also infamous for reducing people to racial kinks, stereotypes and degrading storylines.

So, you enjoy watching porn, but you don’t want to subscribe to the exploitation that goes into making it? This is where ethical porn comes in! You may be wondering: what is ethical porn? It’s important to note that there isn’t any one definition. But this description by sex therapist David Ley summarizes things nicely:

“I talk about ethical porn in two ways, regarding its production, and its use: In terms of production, ethical porn is a media where the performers are paid a fair wage for their work, treated with dignity and respect, not expected to engage in acts against their will, and where sexuality is recognized as a diverse, individual experience. I equate it to fair-trade coffee—when I buy coffee knowing that the farmers weren’t slaves, I enjoy it without guilt and shame. Ethical porn also represents the wide diversity of sexual experiences and desires, from LGBT porn, to feminist-focused porn, to porn involving a wide mix of body types. Ethical porn can be as hot and hard-core as any other material, but you can watch knowing the performers are engaging in behaviors they enjoy, from a place of consent.” 

The comparison to fair-trade coffee is a great one, because just like with ethical food production, ethical porn is supposed to implement fair and conscious practices at every level of porn production. This means an emphasis on consent and pleasure for all, and prioritizing the safety of the performers. It also has to do with how sex is portrayed.

For instance, the website ‘Bright Desire‘ describes their films as a ‘celebration of sex’ which suggests that part of making porn ethical, is to relate to sex as a beautiful human experience, one to be cherished and celebrated. To celebrate sex, we also need to celebrate the diversity of it. This means a wider range of performers, more realistic bodies, and a variety of sex acts.

Fair business practices are also crucial: making sure the performers are paid well, that they have insurance, fair leave policies, and more agency in who they choose to work and perform with. Ethical production practices are a must for independent, ethical porn. But directors may diverge on what these ethical practices look like.

Some directors of ‘ethical’ porn may choose to focus more on the romantic and intimate side of sex. Others may still direct videos that depict rougher, or more agressive sex, while still making sure that the porn they are directing is ethical.

The key is balance.

At the production level, this means that the performers were completely willing to have rougher sex, and that their safety was taken into account. At a reception level, it could also mean that the viewers see as much variety as possible in the sex acts: for instance, it is important that it isn’t only women who are shown as being submissive, and that diversity in types of sex is available to the viewer.

In this way, the ethics of porn has to be empathetic to everyone involved: from the writers, to the performers to the viewer. Erika Lust’s ‘XConfessions’ was a breakthrough moment in creating feminist, ethical porn: Lust asked her viewers to submit their fantasies to her anonymously, in as much detail as possible, and then turned these fantasies into artistic, explicit videos. In this way, porn can be a collaborative and creative process between the director, the performer and the viewer, making sure that everyone has something to gain. 

The word ‘ethical’ is broad and subjective. And when it comes to porn, it encompasses pleasure, diversity, body-positivity, sex-positivity, consent, labour practices and policies and fair pay. While definitions may vary, most so-called ‘ethical’ porn has one thing in common: it has to be paid for, usually on a subscription basis. This makes the gap between ethical porn and mainstream porn even wider. Mainstream porn is free, easy to access and there is an abundance of it on larger hosting networks.

This gap is then widened by the ‘feedback loop’ of search engine optimization. With a great demand for porn that features the abuse and degradation of women, large porn sites put out exactly that. SEO drives it, and then porn sites provide it. Someone looking for porn the first time is more likely to see a video of revenge porn, rape or porn that simulates the abuse of women, rather than an ethically produced porn video. With skewed SEO practices and subscription paid models, ethical porn becomes harder to find and access. 

 

But don’t let this discourage you! While no one person is responsible for the problematic trends in mainstream porn, individual viewers can choose to break the patterns and to be more intentional with what they’re watching. SEO practices and mainstream porn may seem inescapable, but you still have a choice.

If you’re only seeing a certain type of body, with a certain type of sexual behaviour — we begin to expect it. And before we know it, it may become the only way we are able to relate to sex. It’s important to get exposed to various bodies, sexual identities and sexual behaviours, to learn new things and be as open minded as possible. If you are interested in watching porn ethically, here are some things to look out for next time you log onto a porn website:

1. Try to find the performer consent policy. A truly ethical porn-site will include their policy around the consent, safety and well-being of their performers. Read through the policy and see if it aligns with everything you believe ethical porn should include! Some websites even include videos of their performers giving consent, and later talking about how the filming went down. This will give you a better picture of the set-conditions. 

2. Pay for your porn. Ethically made porn will never be free: this is because the performers and everyone involved on set have to be compensated for fairly. And if you don’t pay for this content, then who will? 

3. Do your research: Find out how the performers are talking about their set experiences on social media. Do your research, find out which directors and websites are making and hosting ethical porn. Websites like Bright Desire, ElseCinema, Four Chambers, XConfessions & PinkLabel TV are great places to start. 

4. Be aware of the performer’s age if possible. An ethical porn-site should ideally be up-front about the age of the performers, so that the viewers know that the performers aren’t underage or barely-legal. If you know it’s unethical to sleep with someone underage or barely-legal in real life, this ethics should apply to your porn-viewing experience too!

5. Widen your definition of porn: A lot of ethically produced sexy-content may not be porn in the traditional sense. It could be audio-porn, erotica, sexual ASMR or pictures and videos sold independently by sex workers on websites like OnlyFans. See how a wider array of online sexual content can fit into your life!

So yes, mainstream porn isn’t going away any time soon, but it is still possible to be a more ethical, conscious porn consumer! This could be as simple as paying for your porn, or as large as working to decriminalise sex work and advocating for better sex education. Because at the end of the day, to truly be an ethical porn consumer, we have to live an ethical sexual culture.

Comprehensive sex education is essential for this; one that discusses body-positivity, consent, safety, pleasure and different sexual identities. Porn cannot be a replacement for sex-education. Good sex education will make not only our porn-viewing experience better, but also our general quality of life. And it’s a long way ahead to a world that is truly sex-positive, and defined by a positive, equal, sexual culture. But we can start somewhere. And changing how you view porn is a great place to begin at.

By |2020-08-21T08:21:20+00:00August 21st, 2020|Culture|3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Ronak August 21, 2020 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    So very well put up and the reason I stopped watching porn… These days people don’t even have to log on to a porn site, revenge porn are readily available on WhatsApp !

    Legal age, consent, fair pay, love with dash of lust and dignity are so crucial. That defines ethical porn for me.

  2. Haren August 21, 2020 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    In india everything join with sex spl characters all time

  3. foofoo August 25, 2020 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    This needs like a Certification Authority, just like the ones you have for Organic or Kosher.

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