Bringing Ethics into Porn will Help Demonstrate what Healthy Sex Looks like

Kate Shylo Columns, Opinions, the amsterdammer Leave a Comment

Among the endless variety of erotic films available with only one mouse click, you may have glossed over the subgenre of ethical porn – and now is the time to make the switch. It is important to rethink one’s impact through seemingly benign actions like watching adult films. In our overly hedonistic times, ethics must be addressed. Sex worker rights are also human rights, and this is often being swept under the carpet during our mindless consumption of porn. While this is likely the last thought on someone’s mind while they are watching porn, we must recognize that most sex performers are slaving around just for the pleasure of their irresponsible audience and now it is the time to change that.

“mainstream free porn is unethical and exploitative”

It is not my intention to get Marxian, but mainstream free porn is unethical and exploitative. Performers are underpaid, objectified, and often forced to perform scenes that they are uncomfortable with. The sex industry is a predatory industry in which predominantly women suffer from exploitation. Male performers are often portrayed as penetrating beasts who treat women like blow-up dolls. Both seemingly always have exaggerated and unrealistic physiques. It is quite apparent that mainstream porn lacks diversity and is predicated on supposed male fantasy where violent penetration is the goal, rather than mutual pleasure.

The majority of mainstream porn is not only harmful to the performers, but also to the audience. This is especially true for younger audiences, who nowadays have unprecedented access to porn at any given time. A teenager can pull up one of the millions of videos within moments on their phone, their tablet, or their computer. Their view of sex, human bodies, and pleasure is shaped by terrible acting and unrealistic scenarios that define modern pornography. The severe distortion of bodies and of sex in porn deludes young people and perversely trains them for real-life sexual encounters. We wonder why consent can be so difficult to understand for some people. Look no further than modern mainstream porn – a strong contributor to rape culture.

This is where ethical porn comes to your salvation. The subgenre is relatively new and gaining popularity. It is developed mainly by female directors like Erika Lust – a true pioneer of ethical porn. Lust ensures that her erotic films practice equality and follow labour rights. Her goal is to redefine this male-dominated industry by showing different, more ethical erotica. Her crew often describes the dynamics of her set as artistic, authentic, and natural.

“Ethical porn focuses on realism, sex-positivity, and, most importantly, providing a safe environment for performers.”

Ethical porn focuses on realism, sex-positivity, and, most importantly, providing a safe environment for performers. The actors are free to choose their roles and decline scenes that make them uncomfortable. No one is ever objectified or exploited. Often called the “new wave of adult cinema,” ethical porn creators strive to portray ethnic, sexual, and physical diversity. These values must become the foundation of the porn industry in its entirety. Bringing ethics into porn will help demonstrate what healthy sex actually looks like to all audiences. The potential impact of this change would be immeasurable – not only do we finally humanise sex workers, but it could be the single largest preventative measure we can implement to fight rape culture and backward sexual norms. There are plenty of resources and information online on how to consume ethical porn and how to determine if the porn you consume is ethical. Let’s make ethics part of our fantasies!

Kate Shylo is a master student at the University of Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer.

  • Columnist (Fall 2018)
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