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Imagine a world where street violence, youth fighting and domestic violence were all believed to be caused by the effect of people watching boxing on TV and at live performances. A world where the public largely believe anti-boxing theorists who for the last 30 years have argued what they believe to be a self evident fact, that watching organised aggression as a sport, encourages people to act that aggression out in their real lives.  Such theorists assume that people do not appreciate the difference between an organised sport which abides by rules to ensure the safety of boxers; a sport that gives a framework of rules for viewers to understand a legal and morally allowable sport from an illegal and morally dubious pass time.

Now imagine that the majority of the social science conducted on the subject of boxing vis a vis public violence finds holes and often disproves the anti-boxing theorists. However, these anti-boxing theorists have good connections in the press and media, so nobody listens to the social scientists (or the boxing industry) and the public is persuaded – at least in part – by a theory of boxing being linked to street violence that seems self evident, after all, it’s all about causing visible damage to your opponent isn’t it?

This is what historically happened to pornography. In the early 1980’s theorists like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine McKinnon built an emotive argument against pornography that appealed to the public who were primed to believe them because they lived in a culture that encouraged guilt about watching sexual images. This was especially true when such feminists use a fire and brimstone delivery method, which often discourages reasoned argument.

It is our responsibility to look beyond the rhetoric and ask these anti-porn theorists how they can justify their desire to demand the state removes a freedom from its people, the freedom to watch pornography.

Why the anti-porn moral entrepreneurs are wrong

When the anti/pro pornography argument is raised many people say ‘haven’t we done that one already?’ Many people appreciate that the anti porn argument is largely dated, as does most feminists who agree to disagree. Let’s be clear, books on gender studies and pornography are at least 50% in volume is positive towards the industry and these books make up the last 20 years of study, whereas the anti-porn stance is made up mostly of work from the 1980s. However, there is a current resurgence in the anti-porn moral panic, so we have to cover it here. Here are WeConsent's responses to the usual arguments against porn.

Porn causes rape?:

Both the US Government (twice), the UK Government and wealthy American Christian/Conservatives have spent millions of dollars and thirty years trying to prove a link between porn and rape, and failed. They have also failed to account for the high prevalence and acceptance of rape in countries like the Yemen and Afghanistan who have outlawed porn for many years. In our own country women’s rights were not better before the printing press-the first way that pornography was first distributed-came into being either.

If porn caused rape, then the amount of rape that occurs would be much higher as the prevalence of porn is huge, whereas rape is relatively much lower (admittedly it is too high but this does not prove a link to porn).

Porn causes lowered body self esteem?:

Unlike most mainstream TV and film, pornography actually democratises the body. There is a market for literally anything in pornography. I often say to women who don’t like something about themselves, for instance body hair or body size, stick it into Google and add the word ‘porn’ next to it and you will find a whole host of sites that think this is the most attractive thing about you.

When the media represents pornography often it is the Jenna Jameson/Jesse Jane stereotypical blond porn star that is shown.  WeConsent says this is a reflection of the mainstream media, not of the porn industry, which is made up of 50% amateur performers/producers who are rarely shown in mainstream media, as they do not reflect the media’s narrow beauty ideals.

A recent study by the US Department of Justice found a link between access to broadband and a decrease in rape and sexual assault. The four sttes with the highet broadband access had a 27% reduction in reports of rape and the four with the lowest had a 53% increase in reports of rape over the same period. Admittedly it is only a correlation (albeit regarding millions of people) and it is with regard to broadband - not pornography in particular – but this is food for thought as porn is one of the main uses of broadband.

Porn stars are all sexually abused as children?:

There is no reliable data on this question (in the 13 years I have been a porn director I have never been approached by social scientists conducting any sort of survey) My personal experience with the hundreds of porn stars I have worked with or met shows that the prevalence of people talking about abuse is similar to that of non sex industries. But even if a strong correlation between the instances of childhood sexual abuse and the likelihood to appear in porn could be proven, the question of whether survivors of abuse use porn as a ‘confirmation of their low status’ (the anti-porn argument) or as a means of ‘addressing and re-owning their sexuality’ is never asked by moral entrepreneurs.  The porn stars I have met who openly talk about abuse as a child, say working in the industry has helped them regain a sense of sexual self they lost during the abuse. It makes sense; survivors get to define the route their sexuality takes when they make it their career/life focus.

Pornography leads to child pornography?:

Regarding porn leading to paedophilia again no proof has ever been found. The industry has always been very proactive in separating themselves from any child pornography or any sales to under 18’s for moral and financial reasons (even if you think the industry is morally corrupt you must understand that underage consumers don’t pay). The anti porn moral entrepreneurs cannot say that the industry encourages paedophilia; even when ‘teen’ products are sold.  The teen in such a film is always 18 or 19 (usually older!) as the industry is tightly governed by 2257 legal criteria.

Yet if children are accessing pornography, and we don’t disagree that this may not good be for them, then the emphasis has to be on compulsory sex and relationships education at school, good parenting and the use of blocking software for children, not to take away freedoms from the majority of responsible adults, for the sake of a few irresponsible parents. 

WeConsent argues that it is not fair to blame alcohol producers – for instance Smirnoff – for making the product that a child gains access to via a dishonest or unreliable shopkeeper.  We believe that it is the producers of online security software that (apparently) does not work - who accept the public’s money to protect their kids from porn - who should be blamed for underage access to adult material. They are the ones who are getting rich from children’s access to porn, not the erotic industries who have always been proactive and efficient at self-policing on this issue, going as far as to set up their own campaign group against underage access.

Porn stars health is not respected in the porn Industry?:

I have always operated a policy that porn stars can use condoms if they want to.  Us producers worldwide do not take this lightly. We couldn’t afford not to. The main reason why producers and porn stars don’t use condoms is because they break, they dry up, you use seven or eight in a shoot, and men lose erections. Everybody’s day is delayed due to this. Bearing in mind the UK industry hasn’t had one case of HIV ever, and that compared to outside the industry the porn industries (at least in the UK and US where figures are known) have far safer HIV transmission rates, it’s no wonder that the vast majority of models aren’t joining in with moral entrepreneurs to campaign for condom only films.

The one adult industry that used condoms - the gay adult film industry - has found that they have a higher rate of HIV transmission than their heterosexual counterparts. This is because condoms break but certificates (as long as they are not forged) can be relied upon as the HIV virus takes around 45 days to develop to the level of transmission and porn stars are tested every 30 days with a test that is sensitive to detect the HIV virus very early on.

Extreme pornography (BDSM) is bad, especially for women?:

Moral entrepreneurs mistake extreme sex with the lack of consent; they compare sex to the rest of social and economic life where most people would prefer to have the upper hand. However, in their sex life many people enjoy being submissive and as theorist Jacques Lacan said ‘whatever gives you pleasure gives you power’ So when anti-porn moralists say that the worst thing about porn is women are being seen to be enjoying being raped or being abused, they effectively say that regardless of how much autonomy, education, and will of personality a woman has, she cannot consent to being in, or consuming porn and therefore she can’t consent to be anti porn either!

And another thing:

The anti porn argument is not based on expanding women’s rights; it is a thinly veiled conservative/religious argument that firmly keeps women within the whore-madonna dichotomy, that every decent feminist and woman has been fighting to escape for decades. Women do not need to be put on a pedestal (perfect housewife/selfless mother/prudish worker) that can be kicked from underneath them by men. The dichotomy needs replacing with a realistic representation of women being both a good mother and an autonomous sexual being, for instance.

Moral entrepreneurs fundamentally see women as victims, which in turn encourage women to see themselves as victims. It is this anti-porn moral entrepreneurs that gave men the power to taunt women with porn at work and in private lives, as a tool, which is mistakenly seen as shorthand for female disempowerment.

Why the porn industry is good for society

Pornography saves marriages:

Pornography fills the gap between a couple’s differences in libidos. No studies are known to have asked this question but how many relationships are kept together by pornography where otherwise one partner may have strayed into another’s bed?


Pornography creates a lot of tax revenue:


The porn industry pays the wages of hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who choose pornography as their career. Remember it is not just the pro-porn industry but also the anti-porn industry that provide revenue to the taxman.


Pornography encourages new technology for all:


Pornography develops and popularises new technology, this has always been the case since 8 mm films but includes VHS players, VHS cameras, CD Roms, digital cameras, VOD sites etc...


Pornography teaches us about the body:


Pornography is a good vehicle for learning about the human body. It is where most men learn where the clitoris, A spot and G spots are. The fact that people are more likely to try new acts once having watched porn is not inherently a bad thing, especially where sexual boredom has set in, in a long-term relationship.


Pornography offers a rare work environment for women to set their boundaries:


The porn industry is organised around the women who perform in the films as they decide their limits and are hired on that basis. It is probably the only industry where a woman’s period is a good reason to change a shoot date to suit. Being a mother or indeed, being pregnant, simply means you sell to a new and different market. Compare this to the banking industry where women have to ignore their female traits and bodies in order to get on.