Nichi Hodgsen — Why Ethical Porn?

Article by · March 8, 2017 ·

By Nichi Hodgsen

Asking if porn can be ethical is a bit like asking if food, furniture or fashion can be ethical. In many ways, porn is no different to any other consumer product. If it can be made and sold, it can be made and sold with regard to the well-being of both the producers and consumers engaging with it.

Of course I understand the concern that most mainstream porn is hetero-normative, caters to male desire, and seems to view female performers as a disposable commodity. Much of this porn is ‘fast food’ x-rated content – made cheaply, to mass, un-interrogated taste, and sold for little or nothing. Quality porn, meanwhile, that involves solid labour rights, better production values, and deeper commitment to a polished product is anything but exploitative and cheap.

Of course, more often than not, it’s the commentary that strikes us as sexist and degrading, with anything from ‘naughty girl’ to ‘filthy slut’ making the cut. What’s more, it’s a cut that’s highly subjective. Our idiosyncratic upbringings, learned sexual values, and sexual neuroses band together to give us varied interpretations of where we draw the line between taboo-breaking excitement and straight-up offense. One person’s unethical slander is another’s sexy command. Unfortunately, desire is amoral and does not play by the rules of fairness and respect we might apply to all other areas of our lives.

But if we refuse to engage in a dialogue about how to make porn more ethical, or if we refuse to fashion a vision of what ethical porn might look like, we’ll only continue to have the un-examined porn we deserve.​

Nichi Hodgson is a journalist, broadcaster, and author living in London. Visit her at http://nichihodgson.com/


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