Sex & Dating

Porn Was Never a Public Health Crisis, Sh-tty Morals Were

Hear me out.

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A few years ago, the leading NSFW platform Pornhub was outed for its extremely unethical operations which triggered more negative attitudes towards porn. Around the same time, a random woman entered my Instagram DM’s to inform me that porn was a public health crisis that we needed to eradicate immediately. As a sex worker at the time, I’d heard this repeatedly and wanted to reply with a sentiment along the lines of “girl, read the f-cking room.” But instead, I chose the unbothered route, which clearly, did not suffice because here we are.

When Pornhub was outed for its ways, it forced some people away from the platform — thankfully. But there has been an unfortunate pivot that may not be for the betterment of sex positivity as a whole.

Being that I am a former sex worker, I have first-hand experience of the benefits of virtual sexual pleasure. It can provide a safe space of pleasure for those healing from sexual trauma and can even act as representation for folks with more stigmatized kinks. But when I try to discuss the benefits of porn, I’m almost always met with the claim that porn is not sex education and therefore, its existence is harmful.

Wrong. Porn is simply a form of adult entertainment. It’s important to note that I’m not implying it’s a viable source of sex ed. I believe porn has elements that provide safe and fun sexual exploration for adults, and it’d be a shame if we ditched that just because Pornhub can’t understand the concept of ethics.

I think there’s a better solution in mind. In fact, some people are already acting on it.

Ethical porn, although I despise the name, focuses on correcting aspects that problematic sites like Pornhub have gotten away with ignoring. For example, ensuring that all porn performers are paid for scenes, are providing enthusiastic consent to sex as well as its distribution and of course, not faking orgasms for the sake of the male gaze.

The reason I dislike the name ethical porn, however, is that it implies that all sex work in the form of porn thus far has been unethical. It implies that narratives like “porn is a public health crisis” have validity. This is not true. There are platforms that have manipulated, misused and stolen content from sex workers and those who never consented to sex work. These issues all touch on one theme that is not the fault of sex workers or anyone adjacent: lack of consent.

Our work should be considered neither unethical nor a public health crisis. How the world has been conditioned to engage and interact with it is. Also, using such strong language to signify a false trend puts the jobs of sex workers at risk.

So no, I don’t think porn is a public health crisis nor do I believe it should be eradicated. I do believe, however, that the sh-tty ethics of those who interact with us is a better starting point. We can also address the issue of poor sex education without blaming sex workers. That way we can all engage with adult entertainment in the form that it was intended: mind-blowing orgasms and sexual pleasure.

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