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Ethical porn

By Anqanette-Steadham May 19, 2014 1560 Words
Pornography Ethical or Not?
Feminism means I can take ownership of what I enjoy sexually and that sexuality does not have to determine anything about me. Feminism is not a one size fit all. (Alter, C. 2014) While feminist porn is ethically produced porn, which means performers are paid a fair wage and they are treated with care and respect; their consent, safety, and well-being are critical, and what they bring to a production is valued. Feminist porn explores ideas about desire, beauty, pleasure, and power through alternative representations, aesthetics, and filmmaking styles. Feminist porn seeks to empower the performers who make it and the people who watch it. (Taormino, T. 2013)

In ethical porn, everything is safe and consent is part of the narrative, which enables viewers to watch whatever plays out guilt-free. ‘Ethical porn’ is used to describe the performers work, and ‘feminist porn’ is more specifically the kind of work. (Vasquez, T. 2012)

Feminist have had a very complicated relationship with pornography, anti-porn activists often showcase the most violent or kinky porn that show images of women being degraded, humiliated, and beaten to show how mainstream pornography is. With this, mainstream pornography reinforces the idea that some forms of sex are unethical and non-consensual, leave the woman who enjoys rough sex, bondage, dominance, sadism, or machochism as they have something to be ashamed of.

In mainstream porn, women are abused, forced to work with partners they might not want to work with. Men have a tendency to be very abusive to the women and treating them as less than equal co-workers. The men more often than not make a higher salary than the women. These are characteristics of unethical porn. If a woman likes to be dominated and enjoys rough sex, it should be her choice. For some women this is a fantasy, and thus mainstream porn might be for their liking. Ethical porn puts the kabosh on these types of behaviors in the industry, allowing the women to make their own choices. Sex acts are negotiated fully between performers and where everyone is paid the same amount whatever their gender, because protests against ethical porn are not really about the ethics of porn, but how ethical employment itself can be under a capitalistic patriarchy. Most major porn companies are owned by white cisgendered straight men which stand in the way of ethically produced pornography, and ethical porn is not a separate economic entity distinct from the power of mainstream, violent, racist, homophobic, any misogynist pornography. (Stryker, K. 2014) Unless porn is specifically advertised as being ethically made, there is no way of knowing whether the production was filmed under agreed conditions between the performers. Women should have the choice to take on whatever jobs they want to and not be forced to perform with abusive partners. It is assumed that pornography characterized as feminist porn is ethically made; as it is assumed that all mainstream pornography is degrading and unethical. (Vasquez, T. 2012)

Even though without heteronormativity being demanded or expected, PIV sex in no longer seen as ‘normal’ or required, the focus in now on pleasure of the performers rather than the sex shots. “Pornography is often regarded as a question of freedom of speech; however is more recently been harshly criticized for how it is produced and the images of women it endorses.” (Mosser, K. 2013) “The chief proclamation of pornography is great sexual joy without any attachment, commitment, or responsibility, subscribing to the mentality that sex is solely for fun.” (Wright, P. A. 2012) Some people view casual sex as being harmless and liberating, while on the other hand, there are some that think of casual sex as harmful and self-constricting. “It is suggested that individuals who have a casual approach to sex gravitate towards pornography.” (Wright, P.A. 2012)

Here in America, we are entitled to do several things that harm our bodies for example, smoking, drinking, over eating, and a multitude of other things that aren’t good for us. Yet, we are free to act out these behaviors. So since people find watching pornography offensive, it is not harmful to the greater good, and should not be dictated as such nor should the right to consume it be told they cannot watch or read pornography.

Some arguments against porn and production of pornography would debate rather it was harmful and encourages violence. “Others believe that the root of women’s oppression lies in male violence, control and exploitation of female sexuality and reproduction, which is seen in the heteronormative practice of marriage that constructs women and children as possessions of men.” (Stryker. K. 2014) John Stuart Mill argues that the state may not be allowed to prevent someone from doing something, even if it is harmful to that person and the only way the government can prevent such activity is if it can be shown that is harmful to others. (Mosser, K. 2013)

Since there is no really valid reason why porn is looked at in such a negative light, it can be said that most of the decisions made concerning porn are based on emotions. Some people do not have a reason why something is good or bad, wrong or right, they follow their heart and there are no moral properties to back the position of pornography being good or bad. Be it that pornography is obscene, one can only express the attitude of disapproval. Unless several people of the same belief come together and convince others of their disapproval, the community of same believers may be able to implement new policy, and their beliefs should be respected and thus pornography should be strictly regulated, censored, or even banned. (Mosser, K. 2013)

“The filming of a sex act is neither inherently ethical nor non-ethical; however it is not possible to have ethical pornography in our capitalist-patriarchal culture, where women are still constructed as sex class while the vast majority of pornography industry is owned by very small companies. Ethical porn is not a separate economic entity, distinct from the power of mainstream violent, racist, homophobic, and misogynist pornography.” (Stryker, K. 2014)

Studies suggest that watching porn excessively can be harmful, but doesn’t make it wrong. It’s true that performers are underpaid, exploited, and most times mistreated but doesn’t mean that the porn industry cannot be ethical. Pornography in which performers are made to do things against their will or without consent, underage, abused, or encourages cruel or dangerous activities is unethical. (ethicalarms.com 2010)

In the article, Ethical Porn, by Tina Vasquez, quotes Tristian Taormino who is an ethical film producer, as saying she believes sex education and ethical porn produced by feminists can be antidotes to the unhealthy images and messages contained in mainstream porn. Taormino frequently visits college campuses stressing to young women that porn can be fun, sexy, empowering, and feminist. Feminist porn is also political and it encompasses her mission to showcase genuine female pleasure. In an interview with Cosmopolitan Magazine, Taormino was asked by the interviewer, “If I were to watch a feminist porn now, what differences/exceptional things would I notice as opposed to regular porn? “ Taorminos’ response to the question was, Feminist porn is sex-positive, depicts sexual consent and agency, and prioritizes female pleasure. You’re likely to see real female orgasms. Feminist porn features minorities underrepresented in mainstream porn, so you may see different expressions, races, body types, or abilities, and will not be fetishized or stereotyped as some mainstream porn does with race for example. (www.cosmopolititan.com 2013) Lorraine Hewitt, serves as the Feminist Porn Awards’ creative director says” Women and other marginalized groups have felt victimized by pornography in the past, and that’s understandable. But we have also been hurt by books, mainstream movies, art, etcetera. By promoting this work, I think we’re showing anti-porn feminists that, just as with those other mediums, we can still utilize porn that has positive results for our communities.” (Vasquez, T. 2012)The aim of Hewitt is to broaden perspectives and make different alternatives available and to also influence the mainstream pornography industry to incorporate feminist ideas into their films, showing genuine female pleasure. Some people say that everything connected to pornography is unethical. This is the “ick factor” at work. Just because something is repugnant does not mean ethics is a reason, pornography can be repugnant but also ethical in the societal context. If a woman fantasizes about being and degraded, it does not mean she actually wants or deserves to be dominated and degraded in real life. It does not mean she deserves to be name-called even though during a sexual act that might be the exact thing that turns her on. (Alter, C. 2014 ) “One of the wonderful things we’re doing is showing porn is simply a medium that reflects our desires. We’re just fighting for the desires and perspectives of women and marginalized groups to have equal status and wider visibility.” Lorraine Hewitt (Vasquez, T. 2012)

References:
Alter, C. (2014), The Duke Porn Star is Right: Kink Can Be a Feminist Choice. Time.Com, 1 Mosser, K. (2013). Ethics and Social Responsibility ( 2nd ed.). San Diego, CA. Bridgepoint
Education, Inc.
Stryker, K. (2014). Can Porn be Ethical? New Internationalist [serial online]. March 2014;
(470):30
Vasquez, T. (2012). Ethical Porn. Herizons
http://ethicsalarms.com/2010/08/08/porn-finding-ethics-in-the-strangest-places/ http://search.ebschost.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pdh http://www.cosmopolitan.com/celebrity/news/tristan-taormino/feminist-porn-interview

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