Ethical.porn profiled on VICE

Article by · July 22, 2017 ·

Ethical.porn, ethical porn, and myriad debates surrounding the wider social implications of ethics were introduced and hashed out recently via Mark Hay, writing for VICE.

Makers of So-Called Ethical Porn Hope to Clean Up the Industry” (20 July 2017) — an interesting choice of titles — first offered some history.

[T]he phrase “ethical porn” bubbled up organically about a decade ago in discussions on sex positive and feminist blogs, as digital denizens tried to puzzle out for themselves what kind of porn, if any, could be consumed guilt-free. It didn’t proliferate as a distinct term until 2012, when it broke into thinkpieces, drawing a critical mass of attention by about 2014.

The piece then explained the discussion today:

[T]oday you can find adult performers and producers in the media talking about ethicality as a mix of safe workplace conditions, respect for consent and performer comfort, transparency, and fair pay. But you can also find academics and cultural critics arguing porn is only ethical when it doesn’t depict rapey scenarios, builds consent into narratives; expressly rejects the demeaning tone and cinematic language of traditional porn; or consciously features a diversity of human bodies and sexual experiences rather than catering to accepted male American cultural fantasies.

To see these essentially opposing renderings of the same debate drawn out so matter-of-factly was refreshing.

Then, enter the ethical.porn crew — us.

[Ethical.porn takes] umbrage at definitions that would restrict the type of acts or scenes in porn. Critics who believe so-called ethical porn isn’t quite ethical enough, the site’s curators wrote me in an email, are oftentimes “trying to define or describe ‘correct’ forms of sexual expression. They rely on limited and fairly repressive ideas about what sex ‘should’ be.” The ethical.porn curators believe these definitions come down hard on taboo fantasies or rough sex, which might look demeaning, but can be done safely and happily by consenting actors.

This is precisely what we have seen expressed by contributors here, from Angela White to Casey Calvert and others.

Hay did his due diligence, making sure to check in with one very vocal porn opponent, Gail Dines — as “critics fear [ethical.porn is] a marketing ploy meant to sell more product.”

Skeptics like Dines, though, read “ethical porn” as a marketing effort designed by PR teams to help consumers stop worrying and embrace smut—and to pay for it rather than get it from a tube, as most voices on ethical.porn insist consumers must support ethical content. In her eyes, the industry is such an interlinked mess that even its most independent, high minded enterprises feed into a corrupt system that cannot be adequately regulated or reformed to be truly ethical. She reads this new site as an effort “to gaslight people” into embracing a shallow ethicality built around porn.

People are certainly entitled to their views — and this 100% includes oppositional views, as well as engaging and critical and/or accepting ones. That’s all part of an ongoing discussion!

These were, in our opinion, the highlights if the piece:

Ethical.porn sets out a few broad boundaries for ethical content: consent, transparency, safety, and compliance with the few industry standards that already do exist, like Adult Performer Advocacy Committee’s Model Bill of Rights, Free Speech Coalition’s Code of Ethics, and Performer Availability Screening Service system. But beyond that they take pains to note they’re not an authoritative industry voice—not even a single voice. They’re a platform to explore ethicality.

And also:

Whether or not “ethical porn” is a well-meaning attempt to help police an industry that doesn’t always consider its actor’s physical or mental safety or a loophole designed to assuage guilt in precious viewers may be up for debate. But what’s not is that the site is a repository of industry understandings of ethicality and a recognition that those understandings are diverse and squishy. That’s a resource of value to everyone, from Dines to casual consumers. For those viewers, it may force some serious thought on the difference between our ethics and the ethics of what we consume; it could force us to be more critical of and nuanced on porn production systems, just as we increasingly are of other industries like jewelry, agriculture, or meat.

We greatly appreciate VICE’s effort to critically consider Ethical.porn — thank you VICE, and thank you to all the site’s contributors, existing and future!

Read the piece in full on VICE right here.

What to share your views on ethical porn? Email us at ethicalporn@yahoo.com


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