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Porn With Purpose

How Porn Can, Should, and Does Change the World

About the author: Allison Leigh is a pornographer, producer, polyamorist, and professional kinkster. When sexuality is business, business is fun! 

Conversations about porn and making porn rarely involve discussions about real sex. “It’s just a fantasy” is a commonly repeated trope within the older echelons of the adult industry, uttered with exasperation between scheduling talent and setting up perfectly-lit cumshots. “It’s not supposed to be real. This isn’t sex ed.” The disconnect between sex on screen and sex in real life is supposed to be apparent - but the reality is that more and more people are getting their sexual education through porn. In a world where sexual education is often limited to abstinence, or information about birth control and STI’s at best, people have increasingly turned to adult entertainment to learn about pleasure. Is the adult industry ready for that responsibility?

From a purely theoretical viewpoint, these ideas, which are vestigial remnants of porn’s laissez-faire origins, are accurate. Adult films and pictures are made to be stimulating, to provide the viewer with something that they do not have - a fantasy. Producing monetarily successful adult movies is just as formulaic as producing monetarily successful mainstream movies - gather a few trending taboos, lay them across the skeleton of a scenario, and populate it with the latest talent, and you’re sure to make a little money. We’re not being paid to be sex educators, right?

In reality though, nothing exists in a vacuum, especially not media. People can’t help but be influenced by what they see and experience, particularly when it’s emphasized with a strong emotional response, such as pleasure. Porn is already serving the purpose of sexual education: a NUS survey in 2014 found that well over 50% of UK teens were getting their sexual education from adult movies. People can deny porn’s responsibility in the world, but the fact remains that it is a necessary resource - especially as other resources like social media sites are shutting out sexual content.

Far from needing to be shut down, porn remains to provide the visibility that healthy sex requires. As women have stepped up to take charge of their own careers as actors, producers, and business owners in an industry that has traditionally profited from their bodies, they have, one after another, lifted the veil of shame that surrounded them in the past. Using their open identities as a form of protest, the faces of porn have normalized themselves and the industry more than ever before.

The rise of performers in the spotlight has led to their becoming role models, and more people than ever before view “porn star” as a legitimate career choice, with thousands flocking to independent production methods like webcamming and clip production. Porn’s open identity takes a lot of stress off those in the industry, and has opened up a new conversation in the adult industry: how can we maximize the change we create in the world? What good can we do?

With the weight of secrecy lifted, innovators in the industry have stepped forward to answer those questions. Performer owned-and-operated sites stud the internet with ethical porn options that provide the beauty and fantasy required to entertain, as well as presenting the multifaceted realities of sex and intimacy. Consent has become a prominent storyline, and viewers are more likely to search for “porn for women” than ever before - a category that departs from violent or over-manufactured scenarios and puts intimacy, connection, and trust in the spotlight.

The demystification of porn has changed the world of politics, as well. Suddenly, sex workers are able to speak up in the public sphere and be heard. When Kamala Harris announced her intention to run for the presidency, the sex industry spoke out about her history of anti-sexwork legislation. Stormy Daniels, a porn actress, escort, and stripper, has now famously stood up against the President of the United States. Sex workers are credited with the election of Julia Salazar in Brooklyn, and thousands spoke up against the policies of SESTA-FOSTA, which put workers in more danger than the traffickers it sought to curtail. A Belarusian sex worker is held in Russia, and the world cares. The sex industry has become the adult in the room, stepping forward to speak reason to the squabbling children that rely on them - and finally, with some hesitation, humanity has started to listen.

Nothing changes in a day, and pornography is no exception to that rule. So long as there are people who want to see it, there will be questionable content made without regard for responsibility. However, it is clear that more and more people are demanding something real from an industry that once thrived on empty fantasy. The populace has turned to porn for education, and now, pornographers have stepped forward to become educators, leaders, and role models for those who need them.

This post first appeared on MyErotica.com 

 

REFERENCES:

Baker-Whitelaw, G. (2015, December 11). U.K. survey says more than half of sex education comes from porn. https://www.dailydot.com/irl/sex-education-porn-study/

National Union of Students. (2014, November). Student Opinion Survey 2014. https://www.nus.org.uk/Global/SRE%20Research%20Nov%202014.pdf.

Padgett, E. (2018, October 02). How Julia Salazar Became the Patron Politician of Sex Workers. https://www.playboy.com/read/julie-salazar

Tyng, C. M. et al. (2017, Aug 24.) The Influences of Emotion on Learning and Memory. Frontiers in Psychology, 2017(8):1454.

Members Comments (3)

V

VictorDj4 3 months ago

Dear Allison,

I have read some of your blog posts on MetArt and I do appreciate a voice that’s trying to be nuanced on the subjects of morality and sociological impact of porn. I don’t know if you get more reactions on MyErotica, but on MetArt members are pretty silent about your contributions.

Regardless, here are some of my views on this post:

‘In reality though, nothing exists in a vacuum…’
And
‘Using their open identities as a form of protest, the faces of porn have normalized themselves and the industry more than ever before.’

I actually think that more and more things start to exist in a vacuum. I could talk about how conservatives can’t comprehend progressives and vice versa, but strictly speaking about nude models on Metart.
I think – though I’m not sure at all, and maybe you can shed some light onto this – that most girls on MetArt lead double lives. Their friends, family and (future) employers don’t know they (once) pose(d) nude. They don’t know because in Russia and Ukraine it’s harder to get to porn and this enables the girls to pose nude in a ‘vacuum’.
From Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography_laws_by_region#Russia): The illegal production, distribution, and "public demonstration" of pornography is punishable by a 2- to 6-year prison term.
Ukraine: Pornographic production, distribution, broadcasting (both audio and video), transportation, import and advertisement is forbidden by law in Ukraine.

The above explains why girls from the West are mostly pornstars, while the girls from Ukraine/Russia are mostly nude models (they might masturbate though). In the West it is impossible to hide your nude activities from anyone. So once you make that decision it’s best that you make a full-time living out of that because:
There’s still a stigma around posing nude in a sexual manner;
That stigma does not differentiate much from the stigma of doing porn;
That stigma will put pressure on your relationships with friend and family;
That stigma will make it harder to get a job outside of the adult industry;
And so you’ll end in a ‘vacuum’ where the people you mostly frequent, are in the adult industry;
Hopefully these people will respect you and treat you like family;
Hopefully you’ll make enough money doing porn so that you can start your own business;
That business does not necessarily have to be in porn, but you are your own boss so no-one can fire you because you once did porn;
The chance that you’ll make enough money to do the above by just posing nude is zero to none.

Girls from Ukraine can keep their nude activities hidden. Because of that you don’t have to make a living out of it. You can do it just because it is exiting, arousing and fun and you’ll get some extra funding for your studies. Quite a difference between those two profiles, each existing in their own vacuum.
‘The rise of performers in the spotlight has led to their becoming role models, and more people than ever before view “porn star” as a legitimate career choice…’
Thinking about MetArt girls who might be role models, I can think of two names: Ariel Rebel and Emily Bloom. Probably there will be more, but generally speaking most MetArt girls remain anonymous. They pose nude a couple of times and have no interest in becoming a role model (especially if they’re from Ukraine, for the reasons I have explained above).

As for ‘”porn star” as a legitimate career choice’, I don’t know. You follow this up with webcamming which is – in my view – not as such comparable with porn, as it is with prostitution. This does not make it better or worse, but again: if you’re a student in Russia or any country where porn is banned and you use a VPN to do your webcamming and no-one in your surrounding knows about this… Are you really going for ‘porn star’ or rather for ‘porn anonymous’?

Two last things about the vacuum.
This is my case: no-one knows I have a MetArt account. On MetArt no-one knows my real name. But why? I mean, the reason why I pay for MetArt is because of the girls (of course) but also because I want to contribute to porn that safeguards some ethical values.

This is your case: you’re the only one contributing to the MetArt blog who actually has a last name.

So the vacuum does not apply to you, but it applies to Rose and Adam (the previous blogger on MetArt), and it applies to me and (most of) all the other members on MetArt. Why? Because porn is not considered normal, is not considered healthy, is not considered ethical.

Are there exceptions to all the things mentioned above? I’m sure there are. Are these exceptions growing? Maybe. You’ll probably have more insights on this matter than I do.
But the most important question is this: are these exceptions growing in such a way that in, let’s say five years, calling them ‘exceptions’ would be absurd?

R

Rose 3 months agoCommunity Staff

Thanks Victor for a very thoughtful argument. I have flagged it to Allison as I know she will be very interested to read it.

V

VictorDj4 3 months ago

Thanks Rose.

I was actually in doubt whether or not I should post my comment. I mean, I love MetArt in how it promotes the female nude, and I do agree with Allison that the stigma for posing nude or doing porn should evaporate, but I wasn't sure if that message came through.

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