Ethical Porn

There is no way to know how many people use porn on a regular basis. There is too much stigma attached for reliable self reporting, but let’s just assume that it’s lots.

I find that when people talk about porn use, it usually comes up as something that they’ve been “caught” at or are fearful of being caught using. Many people talk about the struggle they have with it, trying to avoid it because they believe it’s wrong and/or they know their partner would be upset if they knew how much they were using it. In my field, I rarely hear about porn as a non-issue, in that, it is used and is not an issue. This could be because people who talk to me in counselling are there because of a problem, sometimes the idea is that as long as we don’t talk about it, it is not an issue. Sometimes the problems that people are facing with porn have to do with avoidance of other issues in their lives. Sometimes it is around fears related to their own sexual preferences. And sometimes there are fears about what porn will do to them, on a psychological level (See Porn & You regarding these things). Sometimes the issue is around the porn industry itself. This article is intended to address  issues related to the porn industry and how, if you are going to use porn, you can reduce the harm the industry is doing.

In order to address the harm of the industry, in terms of exploitation and the kinds of toxic values, much of it promotes, we will need to move away from shame and fear about this topic. We will need to have some honest adult discussions about this topic in order to take porn out of the realm of the “dirty little secret” and into the realm of something that we can take be up front about our own decisions about it’s use, which is well informed and influenced by our own well examined values. Only then can we work out the issues in our relationships and how to teach our kids about it. (More on relationships and parenting in future posts).

If your own personal morals and ethics permit you to observe two consenting adults engage in sexual activity, without guilt, for the purpose of your own enjoyment, then you may be interested in learning how to best support porn which uses legal and humane labour practices. Aside from legalities, you might also be concerned about the promotion of porn that supports positive messages about female sexuality, toxic masculinity, and relationships.

This is an article about consuming porn ethically by learning how to identify ethical porn. Is there such a thing as ethical porn, you might ask? Porn is a massive industry. That’s not news to anyone. Like any massive industry, it is made up of a very wide variety of people and businesses, with a wide variety of practices. Some of these practices are criminal and need to be stopped at all cost. But the assumption that all porn is exploitative and promotes harmful attitudes towards sex and relationships is naive and contributes to the shame associated with the use of porn. 

Like any aspect of life, when shame is involved, it is more likely that you will cause harm than when shame is not involved.

In my experience, shame is most often present when actions and behaviours are uninformed and unexamined. My hope is that, through this series of posts on porn, you will have enough information to allow you to examine your ideas about porn and move away from fear and shame and into a position of being able to determine how you want to interact with porn, individually, in your relationships, and in the way you parent your children on this topic. If you haven’t already, check out a previous post called Porn & You.

Much of the following information in this post can be found by searching “ethical porn” and “feminist porn.” But a lot of information comes from the book “Ethical Porn for Dicks” by David J. Ley.* Check if out if you want more information, including lists of companies producing ethical porn. 

Here are 4 ways to find and identify ethical porn:

1. Know where your porn is made

The best way to ensure that the porn you watch is created legally, and ascribes to good labour laws, is to make sure that it is produced in countries whose labour laws are clear and enforced. If you question the labour practices of a country who’s porn you’ve come across, you have no way to know if the people who are performing are being treated well. If you don’t know what country it comes from, you are at risk of supporting the production of porn that may be exploitative and illegal.

Find out what policies a company has about protection for their performers, such as use of condoms and other barriers. Ethical companies will have detailed contracts about specific activities which performers will be asked to engage in and performers will negotiate this contract ahead of time. (Discussions like these would be very beneficial in any intimate relationship). 

2. Avoid amateur porn

Avoid amateur porn, unless you are familiar with the policies of the site which is hosting them. Even then, it may be difficult to tell if performers are being treated ethically and what kind of consent process they have been involved in on an individual level.

3. Pay for porn 

It is difficult to track the origin and policies of the free porn available online. Do your research and find a company you feel you can trust, based on their location and policies and buy porn from them. In this way, you are voting for good practices and helping that company to promote ethical porn. 

Many people fear that if they pay for porn, someone else (usually a partner) will discover that they’ve bought porn. This is an important consideration and I encourage you to have this discussion. (More on that in a future post about porn and relationships). There are many reasons why one person, in a couple, will be against the use of any porn. This article may address some of their concerns, the previous article may address more, and future articles (such as parenting and porn) may address others. Ultimately, it will be up to both of you to determine what role, if any, you will give porn in your own lives and in your relationship. You will be more likely to come to a reasonable decision if you are better informed about porn. 

4. Values

There is such a thing as feminist porn which seeks to explore female sexual desire, and sexual autonomy. Many companies who aspire to produce feminist porn spend more time on artistic merit of their productions and are mostly female directed productions. 

Many of these productions will include interviews with performers about their experience of the performance. 

Sex positivity is another value of ethical porn, this means that there is no judgement or negativity around various types of sexual expression, including BDSM, homo-erotica, and kink. It is assumed that these are all ways to explore sexuality and enjoy one’s body and is not harmful if produced ethically. This means that performers are not being exploited, but being protected, engaged in collaborative agreements about their performance, and compensated appropriately. 

You will obviously have your own biases about various types of sexual expression in porn. These may be based on your particular values or morality, sometimes our aversion to certain types of sexual expression have more to do with our own preferences and sometime, they have to do with our own shame about what we find pleasurable. This shame might promote itself as morality and be judgemental. Once again, examining ourselves and getting more information is more likely to allow us to be honest and nonjudgemental towards ourselves and others while knowing where our own ethical and moral boundaries lie, then avoiding anything to do with porn or certain types of porn. 

Note: If you come across pornographic images or videos that appear to portray underage individuals, or if you know of someone accessing child pornography, you are required, by law, to report it. Go to Cybertips to report.

If you believe that intimate images of yourself or anyone else may have been posted online without consent you can also report this at Cybertips

These are just a few ways to determine if the porn you consume is being produced ethically and to become more aware and proactive in your choice about porn.

 

*Please note: I have signed on as an affiliate sales person for McNally Robinson which means that if you click on the above link, and decide to purchase the book I’ve recommended, I will receive an affiliate’s fee. I only recommend books I have read and believe to be worth recommending.

2 thoughts on “Ethical Porn

  1. Pingback: Porn & You | It's Not Just You

  2. Pingback: Discovering Your Partner Uses Porn | It's Not Just You

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