Right now there are hundreds of millions of men around the world masturbating to pornography. We should not judge them. By all means blow those rocks off. About 10 percent of them are probably on PornHub and that’s where the judgement bathwater is spilled.
You’ve probably seen this video, but if you haven’t then go ahead.
My relationship with porn began in primary school. My best friend had an older cousin who wised us up to the financial opportunities of selling naughty magazine clippings. Let’s just say that I didn’t have to work too hard to support my NikNaks and marijuana habits.
Look, you’re already reading a personal confession about pornography, you read what you read.
I think I can credit dirty magazines for my obsession with media. Eleven-year-old me started charting the quality improvements in content delivery over the various years and across different titles. Hustler was always my favourite and I eagerly awaited a new stash so I could see who the Asshole of the Month was.
Playboy piqued my interest in political analysis and profile writing, I followed many writers to more “reputable” publications, but I can point to these years of getting my hands dirty as the foundation of my writing career.
The transition from physical to digital media in the porn industry quickly ended my enterprise. Watching videos in the 90s was difficult enough because you had to find time alone at home, but trying to use the family computer meant getting the password from your parents. And that’s where things started to get out of hand.
Content moderation was a drawn out affair in the days of physical media. Porn production agencies would cast models and then sort out all of the legal issues. Brick and mortar stores had limited clientele and shelf space, so could do its own quality control. Then the privateer resellers like me would grade the content as well to extract maximum value.
You made your money by knowing who and what was trending, and then providing that to your customers before they even knew they wanted it. It was an art.
I saw the decline when the casting couch genre began to trend. That level of voyuerism of seeing how the sausage gets stuffed was a sliding scale of production quality. The other shoe dropped with the celebrity sextapes.
There was the odd D-list actress who would make her way to an Emmanuelle or Red Shoe Diaries set, but now you had access to the imtimate encounters of Hollywood megastars, all in terrible lighting conditions.
The age of the amateur had dawned and with it rose an army of racy auteurs who pushed the edges of genre and medium ever further. Your wettest of dreams splashed on screen and was accessible instantly through the magic of the Internet. Every guy wanted to be in the casting room or pick up girls on the Bang Bus. Humiliating women was glorified and the fantasy of it happening anywhere, with any woman perpetuated.
And this tidal wave of amateur content overwhelmed the content gatekeepers. Moderation was the very first thing to go out the window as companies quickly filled the web with anything that drove clicks.
Men are inherently trash. Imagine what would happen if there was a place you could go and live out your deepest darkest desire and be confident that no-one would ever know. That place is the Internet and, because things like sodomy and other left of missionary position kinks have been tarred with the same taboo brush, it has corners dedicated to depravity.
The negative stigma around sex work and sex addiction have created thriving communities where sex trafficking is rife. It’s not right and it’s not okay. And now PornHub is being exposed as a haven for this content through the harrowing testimonies of women like Rose Kalemba.
Forget facebook and YouTube, we should be calling for better content moderation from porn providers. These sites should, at least, make it harder for content to be uploaded without the subject’s consent.
Yes this will still perpetuate the objectification of (mostly) women, but there are also women out there who actively pursue porn as a legitimate career and make a lot of bank because of it. There’s level to this hustle and making a professional tier legitimizes the craft.
Am I saying ban all porn? No. We’re animals with urges that need to be satisfied. I’d much rather give a potential abuser an outlet to get his rocks off than place an impossible burden on his partner. Sex addiction is real and can be harmful.
Am I saying boycott PornHub until they do right by those who have been harmed and make it even a little harder for those crimes to happen in future? Yes.
And I know that the religious lobby group Exodus Cry is the driving force behind this #TraffickingHub and that they are more concerned about abolishing sex before marriage and pushing their narrow-minded agenda than actually making a positive difference in general society. But that doesn’t discredited the actual trauma that was enabled by sloppy gatekeeping on porn sites.
Sex work and exploitation will always be with us. But there used to be an art to it. It used to be a little more demure. We used to glorify the pornstars and hope to know that they were being adequately compensated for their consent to having their image be surrogates for the most carnal of pleasures.
As long as stories like #Traffickinghub can be found the porn industry will always embody the harmful stigma that it has been associated with: a playground for the depraved.