Carlyle Jansen — Why Ethical Porn?

Article by · May 2, 2017 ·

By Carlyle Jansen at GoodForHer.com

“Ethical Porn”  generally suggests that performers are paid a fair wage with fair labour practices, given a choice about the kinds of sex that they have and with whom, and what kinds of safer sex supplies that they wish to use. Some employ a revenue-sharing model between producer and performers.

Ethical porn concerns itself mainly with the working conditions of the performers, ensuring fair labour practices so that the viewer can be assured that there is no trafficking, pressure to perform, or lack of consent on set.

Of course the challenge is in monitoring whether these conditions are met or not. In other industries there are “spot checks.” We have thought of doing anonymous surveys with performers who send them to us directly which could help.

This is our draft of what we might require directors to agree to having abided by before submitting films for future submissions to the Toronto International Porn Festival (formerly Feminist Porn Awards).

Performer Rights on Set

1. Consent — Performers willingly and enthusiastically consent to the kinds of sexual activities they are asked to perform. They are not coerced to do any kinds of activities that they have stated that they wish not to do or feel that have to acquiesce for fear of financial or other penalty during the booked performance or in future.

2. Choice — Performers are given choice around how they wish to practice safer sex, the types of sex they perform, and who their co-performers are.

3. Working Conditions — The performers are respected for their work, bodies, gender identity and expression and are able to speak up about lack of safety without fear of financial or other penalty on the current performance or in future. Any concerns regarding their treatment by other performers, directors, producers and film staff while on set during filming or before and after are taken seriously and dealt with in a timely and satisfactory manner.

4. Compensation — Performers are paid a fair wage according to their contract and in a timely manner. Some employ a revenue-sharing model between producer and performers.

I do not feel that “ethical” takes a broader social justice stance as we do, for example, at our festival, but I am not sure. The following is another piece that we include for our awards criterion. The part about not perpetuating stereotypes is objective and can be narrow or broad depending on the person’s lens — thinking about how black men and asian women are portrayed, for example. I have a hard time finding mainstream offerings that feature black performers (especially “interracial”) that would fit our requirements for content. But one might say that most porn perpetuates stereotypes about men, women, trans folk, lesbians in general, thus it is a little less objective.

Content

There will be as many definitions of “ethical porn” as there are people watching porn, so there is no real consensus. Some might further include a broader social justice stance as we do at our porn festival. When selecting nominees and award winners, we also consider the final product. The following is a part of our criteria for films that we endorse that is essentially quite subjective but we think important to include.

Inclusiveness – We recognize in a niche-based industry like porn not all films are for all audiences and aren’t able to include everyone. But we also love it when films make an effort to explore sexualities that are often marginalized, fetishized, and/ or ignored by most porn.

  • We like to include films that contain kink, BDSM, and consensual non-consent in a fictional context. We believe that these can be valid fantasies. We do not view consensual BDSM as violence or abuse.
  • We don’t include or support films that rely upon sexual stereotypes. There are a lot more fantasy options out there and we love it when people are creative.
  • It’s our goal to highlight and celebrate films that appeal to a diversity of audiences.

While we do include films with thin, white, heterosexual folks, we particularly are looking for more democratization of the porn industry in terms of whose fantasies and whose bodies are represented. We love films that include fat bodies, trans and non-binary folk, people of colour, gender non-conformists,  folks with disabilities and people over 50, for example. And we are looking for representation of all folks that is non-stereotypical and positive without fetishization or negative portrayals. Again this is a somewhat subjective observation based on an individual’s lens. If you look at most portrayals of black men and asian women for example, most people would be hard pressed to find positive, diverse representations of them. We are looking for a greater diversity of representation of all people in porn.

Ultimately the term “ethical porn” feels like a movement rather than a static definition. As times change and standards evolve and people listen more to folks in the industry more than academics or those outside of the industry, the understanding of “ethical porn” will surely grow as well.

Carlyle Jansen is a sex coach, educator, author, and founder at Good For Her. Find Jansen online at www.carlylejansen.com


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