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Why doesn’t porn ever get cancelled? The industry has been remarkably adept at positioning itself as beyond questions of morality

The attempt to conjure pity for out of work pornographers doesn't wash. Credit: Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The attempt to conjure pity for out of work pornographers doesn't wash. Credit: Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via Getty Images


June 26, 2020   4 mins

Whenever I agree to write about porn, it’s followed by an immediate plummeting of my soul: oh God, I’m going to have to look at PornHub now. PornHub is the second biggest website in the world for adult content by traffic, but in terms of public profile, it’s far and away the leader. And PornHub is horrible. For example, I just checked in on the homepage and was greeted by multiple clips promising mini-versions of Flowers in the Attic. Ugh. Why am I here? Oh yes, to find out if PornHub will let me search for racist porn.

Not that I really have to search. In the homepage thumbnails, everyone is white, unless their race can be sold as a kink. Japanese wife. Chocolate. In the sidebar, I can click on the category “interracial”, because this is 2020 and apparently two people of different skin tones getting down is still as niche an interest as “babysitter” or “smoking”. “Female orgasm” is also a category, for that subset of men who are interested in whether a woman actually enjoys it. Have I mentioned, I hate PornHub.

But I am a brave journalist, so I press on. (Is this sex? Do people like this? Are women people? No, we are sluts and milfs and bitches, according to PornHub.) Will PornHub let me search for racist porn? Spoiler: it will. I put the word “racist” in the search bar, and am served multiple videos, all of which are definitely racist.

Some of them, though, have a veneer of woke, which is very heartwarming. I search for Black Lives Matter: I get a video tagged “black cocks matter”, and one “ebony slut”. All this should be a surprise, because PornHub was recently vaunting its progressive credentials. “Pornhub stands in solidarity against racism and social injustice”, the company tweeted, along with links to Black Lives Matter-adjacent campaigns that followers could support. It’s not a surprise, though, because PornHub is horrible.

If I wanted to be chippy, I would call this a perfect example of the indulgence model of modern liberal mores. Pay your tithe to the bail fund as directed, get back to whacking off over racism with your conscience salved. But actually, I would probably be being both chippy and incorrect, because does anyone really feel bad about their porn? The generally agreed position is that porn exists somewhere outside morality. Things which, at a tenth of the strength, would be instant cancellation offences in any other medium are granted licence in porn because someone, somewhere got an erection from them.

The porn industry’s success in positioning itself beyond petty questions of good and bad is one of the great marketing triumphs of modern times. If it feels good, watch it. Heck, watch it at work if you want to. Here, I run into some tricky terrain, because what happens in the dark between our own heads and hands is really no one’s concern but our own, and if you want to think about that particular woman bent OTK in a lace chemise then what does it have at all to do with me. Hectoring our fantasies seems a spectacularly fruitless endeavour.

But porn is not fantasy. Porn is business, and a profoundly exploitative one. I don’t mean that in the no-doubt tiresome feminist sense that it exploits women, although it does. I mean it in the sense that, in its modern form, pornography is an industry where the capitalist rinses out the worker, then puts up a blogpost to mark International Sex Workers’ Day, which aims to “honor sex workers” and “push for better working conditions”. The fact that PornHub is a major driver of those working conditions is, well, wouldn’t you like to look at some tits instead of thinking about it?

PornHub belongs to the conglomerate MindGeek, which also owns multiple other “tube” sites for watching free porn. Where does this porn come from? From production companies, many of which are also owned by MindGeek. In many cases, if a performer wants to defend their royalties on a clip, they’ll need the help of the copyright holder, which just happens to also be the company drawing down a profit by serving it for free, so good luck with that. Another group of people have also struggled to get PornHub to remove content that violates their rights: victims of “revenge porn”, whose abusers upload their images to the “amateur” category.

At this point in the argument, people like to say: but what about ethical porn? Here’s what’s about ethical porn: it doesn’t matter. It makes up such a tiny proportion of the industry, it’s like putting a chicken in your back garden and claiming you’ve fixed factory farming. Apologies to those who twist themselves into astonishing shapes to produce the kind of porn they think should exist, but at best all they’re doing is providing a talking point for people who want to stall the discussion by saying “what about ethical porn?” so they can get back to their vertically integrated faux-incest.

If you want to talk about ethics in porn, let’s discuss why the industry has yet to have its #metoo moment. There was a possibility of one in 2015, when the performer James Deen was accused of on-set assault by multiple female costars; but the reckoning failed to come. (Deen denies any wrongdoing.) Journalists with an interest in the porn industry proved surprisingly incurious about following these allegations up. For example, writer Emily Witt met Deen during a set visit for an article published in n+1. The abuse claims emerged while she was revising that piece for inclusion in her 2016 book Future Sex: rather than address them, Witt cut him from the copy.

Now another porn celebrity has been not just accused, but charged: the performer Ron Jeremy faces three counts of rape and one of sexual assault. And perhaps this will, finally, be the occasion for a conversation about the attitudes inculcated by an industry which makes a show of brutality against women. Probably not, though. The porn industry could hardly survive if it went in for any self-reflection at all. But, then the hollowness of PornHub’s ethical credentials is obvious. It’s the credulousness of porn’s defenders that’s the really shocking thing.


Sarah Ditum is a columnist, critic and feature writer.

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bob alob
bob alob
4 years ago

Reminds me of a Meme which appeared on Facebook, a child watching the riots asks his father, is there a place where everyone is equal and no one is judged by their skin colour dad?, yes son he replies, it’s called Pornhub.

prholohan
prholohan
4 years ago

Excellent article. It is a vile, corrosive, degrading and dehumanising industry and very harmful for society in general and women and young people in particular.

Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
3 years ago
Reply to  prholohan

I’ll go you one better: it’s also destroying the potential for healthy sexuality in boys. The number of boys who are starting to watch porn before the age of ten has led to an enormous number of boys under 20 who are so dysfunctional from chronic masturbation to increasingly disturbing images that having actual, real life sex, is no longer a possibility.
Support groups for men and boys are growing in numbers. They are renouncing porn to try to find their way back.
It’s a very shitty situation when kids are no longer able to enjoy those hallmark moments of the first crush, the first kiss, the first romance, and of course the first time they have sex. That’s all gone.
Now they are masturbating furiously to some of the most fucked up themes we can imagine, because the more you do it, the more you need to search for things so outrageous that we can hardly call this sexual anymore. It is now officially chronic self abuse, done to the real life abuse of another human being who was very likely trafficked.
But as she said, don’t let reality get in the way of a w**k. Just pretend it’s all fake.
But it’s not.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
4 years ago

One day I’d like to read an article that tries to show the industry in a nuanced light. Not necessarily a good light, mind, but one that acknowledges that alot of people work for it.

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
4 years ago

I’m guessing Sarah Diton did not go on gay-only sites then.
They make her grievances look like kindergarten.
(a friend told me this btw)

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago
Reply to  Lee Johnson

I hadn’t thought of that.

And just to add an extra twist to that one – gay Male porn is one of the most popular forms of porn … with women!

dalrymplesdisciple
dalrymplesdisciple
4 years ago

Great article from Sarah, thank you. (You won’t be reading this as I’m sure you’re too sensible to read the comments.)
IMHO the issue is that women’s sense of commitment to liberality kicks in and the majority simply cannot bring themselves to condemn something ostensibly done “in private”. They know porn is social cancer but have to limit criticism to working conditions, so if a woman consents and is well-paid and happily employed being slapped and pissed on, there’s no liberal basis for objection. Because whilst it’s all stuff like “solidarity”, thick-rimmed specs and spotty head cloths, feminism is cool. But heaven forbid you end up like sexless Mary Whitehouse – Ew, the worst, right?!

We need more “joyless feminists” like Ms Ditum willing to call degradation out for what it is.

Walter Egon
Walter Egon
4 years ago

“…to find out if PornHub will let me search for racist porn.”
Mindset in a nutshell.

Rob C
Rob C
2 years ago
Reply to  Walter Egon

I just googled racist and got “no results” found.

postjper
postjper
4 years ago

The internet has enabled addictive behavior. Pornography in moderation like anything human is a curiosity, exciting. When it becomes an OCD behavior we cross an invisible line whereupon it defines us.

John McFadyen
John McFadyen
4 years ago

A noticeable absence of a female response here.

Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
3 years ago

I am so tired of the predictable and rather lame response of so many men who can’t stand the thought that a global industry that has commodified sex and is now grinding up human hearts and bodies and causes so much actual suffering, trafficking, and outright slavery, is somehow something to defend.
Is wanking that sacred?
And honestly, the same men who take issue with a woman writing about it and demanding proof, are really in willful denial.
I will post a fun animated video on how porn affects your brain here. I know how most men won’t watch it because you don’t want proof, you want to be right. But, wanting to is not being.
https://www.youtube.com/wat

raul.groom
raul.groom
4 years ago

There is no question of canceling porn because consumption of porn is utterly universal (Lajeunesse). In that sense the situation is similar (except in that porn itself is not known to cause harm) to that of alcohol, a demonstrably destructive social force that is simply too popular to be banned (we know; we tried it!)

The real issue that could actually be addressed by public policy is one of workers’ safety and workers’ rights, which in the US rank very low on the scale of public concern.

This is the case with sex work generally – the right people make money off it, and the people who get hurt and exploited (women mostly) are of no great concern to anybody except the evil Left. Things will go on as they are until American values are updated to include sex workers as people. I’m not holding my breath.

alisonwren3
alisonwren3
4 years ago
Reply to  raul.groom

Would you not think that massive rates of erectile dysfunction among young men, and about 1/3 of women 18-35 have experienced unwanted slapping choking strangling spitting during sex is harmful???

raul.groom
raul.groom
4 years ago
Reply to  alisonwren3

The ED thing… I know of absolutely no evidence that prevalence of porn is related to ED rates in young men. Happy to see some.

On the slapping/choking thing, I do indeed think those things are harmful! I would like to see laws against porn depicting choking enforced, along with laws against choking your sex partner against their will. In general these are preferences of the political Left, especially the second one.

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago
Reply to  raul.groom

I must be misreading your post. Are you saying that ” choking your sex partner against their will” is a preference of the political left? I never knew.

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago
Reply to  alisonwren3

Alison, you don’t provide a link, but it sounds like a gloss on a Guardian article. The erectile dysfunction claim is highly dubious, and has been refuted. One should always question claims like this from those already ideologically opposed to porn.

“Our study, and now two others, have found there is no relationship between the amount of sex films men view and erectile functioning with their partner,” says Nicole Prause, PhD, a sexual psychophysiologist and licensed psychologist at the Sexual Psychophysiology and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. Her research with Jim Pfaus, PhD, IF, was published in Sexual Medicine and was the first peer-reviewed study of this topic.

“In one case, the study found stronger sexual arousal in men who reported viewing more sex films at home,” she adds.

Only those men who were conservative and in relationships had any relationship between sex film viewing and erectile functioning.

“Taken together, this means that sex films do not contribute to erectile dysfunction,” Prause notes. “However, those whose personal values contradict with viewing sex films may be experiencing general shame around sex that also influences their erectile functioning.”

https://www.healthline.com/

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago
Reply to  alisonwren3

Just as an afterthought: claims have been made that female sex toys, such as vibrators, reduce clitoral sensitivity, and make it harder for women to achieve orgasm during “normal sex”. If true (I’m sceptical), would you see this as a justification for making female sex toys illegal?

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
4 years ago
Reply to  alisonwren3

Not intrinsically.

Something that’s a massive turn off for myself, but a good number of women (all within 18-35 as it happens) have asked for or delight in most of the above.

Anecdotal, perhaps, but if you think this is just a men/porn thing, members of your fellow sex might surprise you.

It comes down to being respectful and being emotionally intelligent enough to know when somethings appropriate or not. But that is really not always that easy and you can see how someone might get it very wrong with no ill intent.

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

“if you think this is just a men/porn thing, members of your fellow sex might surprise you.”

I think this one of the key problems in this debate. A small group of women (and some men) seem to think that they know how all women feel about sex and sexuality – but they just don’t. They know about their own – and even that in a perhaps not very insightful way.

Men learn about female sexuality by being surprised by it, and finding that it is something far wilder and more varied than they had been led to believe.

Fifty shades of grey is the tip of the iceberg. And increasingly the complaint about men is not that they expect too much, but that they are unadventurous and frankly boring.

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
4 years ago
Reply to  alisonwren3

And why is that caused by porn?

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
4 years ago
Reply to  alisonwren3

Are you speaking from experience or hearsay ?

dalrymplesdisciple
dalrymplesdisciple
4 years ago
Reply to  raul.groom

I think this is a good point – even if society decides porn is bad (correctly), its widespread popularity and use make any sort of “prohibition” incredibly difficult.

However, I think people overestimate the danger of “pushing things underground”. I strongly suspect the vast majority of porn users – normal men – wouldn’t go to illegal lengths or start using prostitutes if they didn’t have the same free, easy access to porn. They’d just make do with the most erotic material available to them.

This is why cancelling “Page 3″ is such an odd victory. Such progress that we’ve stopped blokes looking at tits in a newspaper… but they’re watching sad-eyes Russian teenagers get “brutally face-fucked” instead.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago

Good article, if awfully depressing. To all those saying below that ‘everyone’ uses porn, that’s inaccurate. I never have. Anyone with any imagination can enjoy their own fantasies without having to pay some sleazeball to exploit losers to provide them.

Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
3 years ago

I’m sure most men who believe their desire for porn trumps human rights will cry out that these is a lie, the UN lies, and all organizations tracking, fighting, and proving this is happening are really lying.
Please. Stop. You sound as insane as all the men screaming “It IS a woman’s d**k, because I am a REAL laydee (which is usually followed by “so choke on my lady d**k you b***h-something a real woman would never say).
You doth protest too much. I know that you know that it is all about a game to preserve the increasing abuse of women, and girls, and also boys. Because men want to believe their d**k is the most important and sacred thing in the universe.
It’s not.
So here are some statistics. I want you to try hard to take one second to remember that the porn you are wanking to so you can blort your goo is often the result of trafficking, real rape, and real life abuse.
And honestly, if i could, I would wish upon each of you to suffer the same fate as every person abused in the porn you watch. Fair is fair. If you watch it happen to someone else and revel in it, we should be able to watch it happen to you. Right?
https://www.enough.org/stat

Alexander Allan
Alexander Allan
4 years ago

Pornography is the product of the progressive worldview that sex is principally for the pursuit of personal pleasure. As long as this destructive error in reasoning persists then pornography will flourish along with the slavery, rape, coercion and abuse of women that accompanies it.

John Jones
John Jones
4 years ago

Why doesn’t porn ever get cancelled? Perhaps it’s because women enjoy it as much as men (see the most recent research) , in spite of your sexist, gendered commentary, in which you assume that only men are consumers.

In fact, a good case can be made that women consume pornography (from the Greek “writing about prostitutes) more than men, when you include “romance” novels, really soft-core porn, in the definition. The research actually shows that women become just as aroused as men, and in fact, become aroused by depictions of bonobo copulating, a visual that men don’t find titilating at all.

Years ago there was a split within feminism between sex-positive (read “male-friendly) and censorious feminists over this issue. The sex-positive group won over the Victorian-lite censors because porn viewing by women is feminism’s dirty little secret.

At least it was until 50 Shades made porn fashionable among soccer mom’s. Then suddenly porn was about female “empowerment”, and therefore “woke”. Unable to spin this in a way that made men the villains, censorious feminists left the field to those who hand out dildos at frosh week as a sign of female liberation.

From that position, it becomes difficult for feminists, regardless of their hypocrisy in other areas, to protest porn when their own hands are so busy seeking self-gratification, because as we all know, a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle- especially when pornhub is so handy.

And by the way Sarah, no one is forcing you to write about pornography or to view pornhub. And yet…

dalrymplesdisciple
dalrymplesdisciple
4 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

Yep, women enjoy seeing other women spat on, having their heads pushed down toilets, having their eyes ejaculated in and being pursued to accept a**l penetration despite the pain it causes them. A bit of social research told me.

You know you’re welcome to use your brain any time you feel like it?

Rob C
Rob C
2 years ago

Very little of pornhub is like that, though.

chichikaka82
chichikaka82
3 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

Criticism about porn is not sex negative I would argue it’s the opposite
I have worked with women abused in the industry and 13 year olds addicted to it who are assaulting other 13 year old and many more horrible things
It needs to be criticized
It’s not as simply as just don’t look at it when the drug is free and children and addicts have super easy access.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

So to protest against exploitation makes you just another exploiter keen to get a cheap thrill. Just like denying you’re racist makes you a racist. Great example of the hole-in-one, heads-I-win-tails-you-lose argument that dishonest people use when they don’t want their tactics looked at too carefully.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

Yes, women watch porn. Just want to make the point that 50 Shades is looked on as supremely badly written and laughable porn by countless thinking women and many of them I am sure are soccer mom’s.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

Christianity is a Semitic religion and carries with it all the usual sexual neuroses associated with a religion spawned in the desert. First is the absolute horror of nudity, followed by the systemic practice of misogyny, the terror of ‘botty banditry’ and many other phobias too numerous to mention.
In the Classical World, the world of Greece and Rome nobody seems to have a given a fig about any of these. They spent much of their lives “gymnos”-naked. The great sporting events, the Olympic and other major Games for example, were, with the exception of one event, performed naked. Gay or straight, all were equal under the law, and finally they hardly ever performed human sacrifice, unlike off course, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Should an Ancient Greek or Roman have had the misfortune to be ‘catapulted’ into the 21st century, they would be astonished at our primitive behaviour and the barbarism it has engendered.

Andrew D
Andrew D
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Please provide examples of Christians, Jews and Muslims performing human sacrifices

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Human sacrifice, as practiced by the three Semitic religions was driven by the horror of Blasphemy, Heresy, Apostasy and Infidelity.
To be rude about, or even query God’s divinity and other supposed powers, was a Capital crime, to be punished with the utmost savagery.
For both Jews and Christians, the start is ‘Leviticus 24 : 13-16, together with other tracts both from the Torah and the Talmud. For Islam, Sharia Law is the handbook.
“Stone the Blasphemer!” was the cry, and in some parts of Islam still is.
Due to the possible shortage of adequate stones, burning alive seems to have later become the preferred method of execution, no doubt because it also brought a greater sense of ‘theatre’ to the whole occasion.
So for centuries, Europe to take but one example, reeked of barbecued human flesh, as thousands perished in various ‘Crusades’, ‘Witch Hunts’ and Heresy Purges. The Auto- da -Fe (Act of Faith!) of the Spanish Inquisition were particularly memorable, but there were a plethora of other examples, too numerous to mention here.
The last execution (hanged) for Blasphemy in the U.K. was performed in Scotland, as recently as1697, whilst in Spain the last Heretic was (mercifully) garrotted in 1826.
However to end on a cheerful note, who can forget that splendid scene from “The Life of Brian”, when ‘Deuteronomy of Gath’ is executed by stoning? And, horror of horrors (bearded) women were present!

Andrew D
Andrew D
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

What you are describing is people killing others in the name of religion. Not a good thing, but not the same as human sacrifice, which is ritual killing to propitiate a god or gods. We all know that people like killing other people, and religion provides as good an excuse as any other. What Christianity does not do (unlike your romanticised Greeks and Romans) is condone human sacrifice.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Weasel words I’m afraid. All were ‘sacrificed’ to appease a brutal, vindictive god. In the case of Judaism and Christianity the Bible fairly reeks of this poison almost from the start.
However we shall just have to agree to disagree on this matter.

Andrew D
Andrew D
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

The Christian God – as described in scripture and theology – is loving and forgiving, not brutal or vindictive. I fully accept that people calling themselves Christian have often been brutal and vindictive, but they’ve never practiced human sacrifice, as I think your inverted commas now acknowledge. It’s really not a question of agreeing or disagreeing, just one of avoiding loose inflammatory language and trying to get the facts right!

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Oh dear, not only rude and impatient, but persistent to boot.
Try reading your bible, and then you will “get the facts right”. Perhaps.
Your silly denials had added foolishness to your other shortcomings. You may prefer murder, but I,sacrifice, live with it.

Andrew D
Andrew D
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I’ll leave it others to decide who’s being rude, but I plead guilty to being persistent, because you can’t get away with restating untruths without evidence. The suggestion that Jews have carried out human sacrifice is particularly obnoxious; it’s the so-called blood libel, as old as the hills and completely without foundation. These are volatile times, when careless talk can literally cost lives – you should think more carefully before making such statements.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I was taught “never to mock the afflicted “, however, in your case I shall make an exception.
I have already given you the biblical reference for sacrificing the blasphemer, and numerous other examples, yet you persist in splitting hairs preferring to call it murder, not sacrifice. Was not Christ sacrificed to appease the Sanhedrin and Pharisees?
As to ineptly trying to equate this the “blood libel” myth, that is simply ludicrous.
Finally, is your last paragraph a thinly veiled threat? It certainly reads like one. If so, you have laughably revealed yourself to be the demented bigot, I suspected from the start of this conversation, and also illustrated why historically christianity was so keen on sacrificing Heretics and others.

Andrew D
Andrew D
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I think you need a course in self-awareness

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Answer the question you insolent toad, is your final sentence a threat
or not? Think very carefully about it.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

None of these listed are examples of human sacrifice as part of the liturgy of either Islam, Christianity or Judaism. Actual human sacrifice was. however, part of the rituals of pre Abrahamic religions. That is, humans were killed to appease the Gods.

Thousands perishing in crusades (at least you didn’t exaggerate because it certainly wasn’t millions) or people being hanged isn’t “human sacrifice” as part of a religious ritual either. The inquisition is largely exaggerated.

You might as well say that the enlightenment or Britain were built on human sacrifice because of Hiroshima or Dresden (or your desire for killing millions In China).

The difference between your British nationalism and wokeness is slight on religion and Christianity.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Andrew Derrick and I, both ‘devout sceptics’ had a brief discussion on this subject a month ago. We begged to differ, although really I think we were not talking about religion, but rather semantics.

However what was Leviticus 24:13-16 all about? My point is people were killed in the name of religion, for being blasphemers, heretics, or even disbelievers. Do you seriously challenge that?

The liturgy is an irrelevance, what matters is the homicidal thought process that demands death for unorthodox behaviour.

Thank you for condescending remark about the Crusades, coupled with the nonsensical remark about the enlightenment and “Hiroshima or Dresden”.

Your Parthian shot, the final paragraph was also rather vulgar don’t you think? May I hazard a guess that you are from the Emerald Isle, and thus have a slight problem with everything English? My apologies if this incorrect. “Manners maketh man”, as the good Bishop said.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Not from Ireland, no. But of partly Irish descent. I’m just replying in fashion, mark. You often describe posts as woke. Yet to me hostility to Christianity and the crusades is very similar to woke indeed. And I’m not a believer.

Hostility to the religious past and hostility to the past in general have the same attribute: they uproot us from our past.

Andrew D
Andrew D
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Although there are known examples from ancient Rome, and possibly from Greece

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I think something can be said for the Greeks, but the Romans? Astonished at our primitive behavior? I guess, if not feeding people to the lions and not watching slaves fight each other to the death are considered the height of barbarism.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Alan Girling

“Something can be said for the Greeks”,
Is that how you describe the second greatest people ever to walk the face of this miserable planet?
The Greeks/Hellenes produced the basic matrix for what is the now the Western World! Wake up!
The Romans ‘clambering on the shoulders of the Greek giant’ brought something unique to the party, the ‘Pax Romana’, an incredible period of centuries of Peace throughout the Roman World.
The problem off course, was that testosterone filled men, deprived of the traditional outlet, internecine Warfare and murder, had to be placated. The answer was State sponsored entertainment, the Ancient equivalent of ‘Rollerball’ -Gladiatorial Games.
Modern research seems to indicate that many of the Gladiators were ‘volunteers’ who craved the adoration of the mob, just like modern superstar sportspersons.
As to to the Lions, one of the capital punishments of Ancient Rome was to be sentenced to death, “Damnatio ad bestias, literally death by beasts. This was not an exclusively Christian punishment, but rather one for miscellaneous malcontents.
You may have a quadruple first in Classics, but you must up your game.

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

You’re right. I was not fair to the Greeks. Thinking only on the question of barbarism, not attempting a global assessment of their achievements.

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Human sacrifice in Christianity? I’d be interested to know about this. Or do you mean the “Big One” by Jesus? Hmmmm, I suppose that’s a grey area….
Weren’t the fights to the death in the Roman Games human sacrifice? If not to the traditional Gods, at least to the perhaps more important Gods of civic contentment and cohesion?
I love your “terror ‘botty banditry'”. The possible unintentional omission of a particle notwithstanding, the phrase could be ambiguous to the uninitiated, although I fear that to express my curiosity here may lead me into treacherous back passages….

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan Poynton

Well said, guilty as charged, particle omitted due to slovenly/arthritic typing!
Fuller response to Christian human sacrifice to follow.
Pederastry in the Ancient World is beyond our comprehension is it not?
The hypocritical ‘Virus’ of Christianity has much to answer for..

Andrew D
Andrew D
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Still waiting to hear about the evidence of Christian human sacrifice that you’ve uncovered

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Just received your intemperate epistle, you must learn to be patient. “Manners maketh man”, as the great Bishop said.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

As to human sacrifice, I have given a fuller account to the somewhat impatient, Andrew Derrick in this thread.
However I do not believe it is solely about dragging some poor wretch to the top of say, an Aztec Pyramid, and gouging out their still palpitating heart, from a trembling, writhing body, before flaying them, in order to ask the ‘god person’ for a rainy day.

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Ah, once infected always infected it seems……as a reluctant lapsed Christian, I pine for those days when I could kneel and pray with sincere humility and sing praises to a benevolent creator (and his rather cool son, I have to say). Old habits die hard…..

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan Poynton

Yes indeed, but then the “dawn of reason” comes!
Diogenes of Sinope was also ” rather cool” as you say. You may find him interesting.

dalrymplesdisciple
dalrymplesdisciple
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

In a crowded field you’ve managed to make the least historically informed comment of the week! Well done Mark.

While you celebrate, have a look at how Romans thought of or used slaves, temple prostitutes etc. and then maybe have a think about why it was that, in your liberal Roman Empire, women and slaves flocked to the new cult of Christianity.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

Many thanks, praise indeed!
Did I say “liberal Roman Empire”? No I didn’t, you fantasize!
The subject of Roman slavery is too complex to discuss here, but do you, for example have any idea whatsoever of the manumission rates for domestic slaves?
Temple Prostitutes, were all ‘volunteers’,
weird by 21 century mores, but perfectly acceptable to contemporary (eastern) society.
Agreed, the poor, women, and slaves, were seduced by nascent Christianity, but they were, and still are, far too stupid to make a sensible appreciation.
Without wishing to sound patronising, have you ever studied the Classical World at say University level?
You seem parrot the same old rubbish that Hollywood spews out in piffle such as Ben Hur, The Robe, and even, the otherwise interesting, Gladiator.

dalrymplesdisciple
dalrymplesdisciple
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I appreciate that Roman slavery was not like TA slavery, which is what springs to the mind of most. Freed slaves were not automatically given citizenship however; it is the universal human dignity and equal value that attracted to Christianity, and still does by the way.

I haven’t studied the classical world at university which I’m sure makes my opinion worthless in your eyes, given your attitude to slaves, women and the poor. Thank the Lord, literally, that Christendom dominated and our society learned to value all lives rather than perpetuate your scholarly classical contempt for the lower strata.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

So,in a nutshell you admit you know nothing about Roman slavery.Well done!
Christianity did not invent “universal human dignity” etc as you claim. That had been around for centuries, as you should know.
Your opinion is not “worthless”, merely ill informed. That may be corrected.
I do not have “contempt for the lower strata”, as your so vehemently assert.
I have the utmost sympathy for their plight, locked in a world of ignorance, superstition and violence, with little hope of escape.

dalrymplesdisciple
dalrymplesdisciple
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I said I didn’t study it at university. Does that equate to knowing nothing? Perhaps, in your eyes.

I’ll happily be corrected on the point that freed slaves were not automatically given Roman citizenship, if I’m incorrect.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

Your opening salvo in this discussion started thus: ” In a crowded field you’ve managed to make the least historically informed comment of the week!”.
Now, as a result of a little chastisement, you have turned into an angry, self pitying, pathetic specimen, with a pronounced persecution complex because of your poor ‘University’ education.
However to your query. Up until the year 965 AUC (212 AD to you), the rules were, if a Roman citizen freed a slave, the slave became a Roman citizen, with almost full rights. If a Peregrinus, ( a non Roman citizen ) freed a slave, he/she also became a Peregrinus. In 965/212 all citizens of the Empire became Roman citizens, thus all freed slaves became Roman.
So, at the time of your Redeemer for example, if you had to be a slave, it was probably desirable to belong to a Roman citizen.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I feel you should look for another venue to post on, your negativity and anti-Christian, Semitic, Islamic, bent is unpleasant, and your name calling OTT.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

What name calling exactly? What is so unpleasant about criticism of a fallacy?
Surely Eton didn’t teach you to whinge like this?
If it did, ask Waldegrave for your money back, I’m sure he will oblige.

wpm327
wpm327
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Remind me to not disagree with you…..

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  wpm327

What are you referring to? The above is only a piece of light hearted banter after all, or did you find it otherwise?

F Wallace
F Wallace
3 years ago

WTF do Roman slaves have to do with Christianity being oppressively backwards and prudish about sex?

malcolm.rose
malcolm.rose
3 years ago

In p*rn videos I’ve seen, the performers appear to be bored out of their skulls. I wonder about filming myself in the act, to see if I appear so too.

Any comments or experiences?

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
4 years ago

“The generally agreed position is that porn exists somewhere outside morality.” I don’t think the writer really understands porn. In itself it does nothing immoral, unless you think any freely made transaction in a money-based economy is immoral. What it does do is artificially recreate and display a simulacrum of our desires. It manifests in, dare I say, a safe space, what people want, albeit often in an exaggerated form. Are those desires within us regardless of the existence of porn? Of course they are. They have deep and very complex origins. And make no mistake, those desires, no matter how vanilla or fetishistic, normal or kinky, are fundamentally DE-humanizing. Sexual desire, by itself, does not respect the other as a subject. It is purely animal, 100% id, and as such, ‘evil’, but only a moral problem if it subsumes and dominates our humanity in the real world. That is why in a real relationship, so much work has to go into seeing the other as a whole person, all of their natural darkness and all of their light, and respecting the whole person. But porn is not a real relationship. It is no different from any art in that sense, though in other senses it can be deemed most often to be very bad art. Like any art, it gives back to us who we are, just on one ‘base’ level, and that is for sure not pretty in any moral sense. We’ve known since Freud that sex is totally amoral, so like the feminists who went into spasms of cognitive dissonance at the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey, it is wrong-headed to expect consumers of porn to have a moral relationship with it as if it is a real relationship. PS. All the examples the writer gives about abuse and bad behaviour in the industry are about people in real relationships, real people treating other real people badly. That is not porn.

matthew-hall
matthew-hall
3 years ago

As a young barrister in the early 90s I regularly prosecuted obscenity cases. The Met’s Obscene Publications Squad would raid a sex shop in Soho and grab handfuls of VHS tapes and magazines.
Anything portraying violence, children, animals or less than flaccid male members was considered prima facie obscene and prosecuted.

The legal test for obscenity is whether the material would ‘tend to deprave and corrupt’ persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read or see it.
I considered ‘deprave and corrupt’ to mean that the material must somehow alter the mind of the consumer for the worse. I always felt it pretty unarguable that most pornography does deprave and corrupt – it changes thought patterns and implants ideas and images that would not otherwise exist.

Somewhere in the late 90s police raids and prosecutions stopped. The law remained the same but the police and the CPS seem to have decided – without public consultation – that we were no longer capable of being depraved or corrupted by material which only a few years earlier would have had precisely this effect …

I can only assume that the shift in policy was the work of the Blair government. The strange new morality disapproved of such harmless pleasures as smoking in pubs but was fine with the a**l Sluts appearing in your phone (and your kids’ phones) and all debasement that went hand in hand with the exploding porn industry.

I remain fascinated by the layers of hypocrisy and contradiction. Research has shown that 100% of men with access to porn consume it. It seems that somewhere between 40 and 60% of women admit to watching, depending on the study. Does the absence of feminist uproar imply tacit approval? Does it mean that while we have collectively decided to recalibrate the rules of social and professional interaction (much for the better), to compensate for the removal of sex, innuendo and flirtation we have collectively – men and women alike – agreed to service all those impulses through internet porn?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago

Yesterday there was a leading article about Incels. If you’re going to have millions of Incels around the world, you’re going to need a lot of porn.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago

Must check out PornHub. I had never heard of if.

mikeedwardz.edwards
mikeedwardz.edwards
4 years ago

What is OTK?

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago

Am I giving away too much by replying? 😀

OTK = over the knee

Jacob Mason
Jacob Mason
4 years ago

The classical method (Greco-Roman, Christian, etc.) for coming up with and justifying a codified set of moral behaviors involved observation of the consequences and concomitants of any various type of behavior.

I appreciated this article, and think that Ditum could go even further, based on her own observation about what proportion of porn seems to be non-exploitative. (“[Ethical porn] makes up such a tiny proportion of the industry, it’s like putting a chicken in your back garden and claiming you’ve fixed factory farming.”) This is the criterion for judging whether this category of behavior is moral/should be permitted in a just society or not: Does its commission generally produce bad effects? The answer, at least with regard to porn actors, is yes.

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
4 years ago

Although Sarah is no doubt right about the abuse and disrespect in the porn world, especially of women, what does she mean by “racist” porn? We are all “racist” in that none of us are “colour blind” – it is deep within our limbic system. We should recognise this to better check our biases, in order to more effectively fight for equality. However, to have a preference in aesthetic/sexual attraction to a particular race(s) is completely natural, and deep within our particular personalities. This doesn’t mean we can’t be attracted to or have relationships with people of any other race. And it doesn’t mean we have to behave in a harmful or hurtful racist way. People must go cautiously if they want to suppress or shame people for their basic personal instincts, emotions and attractions. That always ends badly, and is exactly what some trans-activists are now doing in trying to shame heteronormative men by labelling them “transphobic” if they don’t want to date transwomen. Dangerous stuff.

Lou Campbell
Lou Campbell
3 years ago
Reply to  Dan Poynton

Hi Dan, I think she means by “racist porn” what you get when you search for that in pornhub.com….
The harmful and hurtful kind, not the pick your preference categories kind she refers to at another point.
I think that’s her point, the race element is par for the course in categories and filtering Choices….there is also the racist element in all its nastiness.
(Gross! thought I should confirm the facts rather than just say ‘I think….’ it’s confirmed 🤮)

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago
Reply to  Dan Poynton

Don’t you think that phrases like ‘ebony s**t’ are inherently racist (as well as various other nasty things)?

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
3 years ago

No. It’s certainly “racial” – but no more racist than saying “white s**t” or “Asian s**t”.Or noting that Asian people don’t make as great players of basketball as African-Americans.The other nasty things are glaringly obvious but are another issue.

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
3 years ago

No. It’s certainly “racial” – but no more racist than saying “white s…” or “Asian s…”.Or noting that Asian people don’t make as great players of basketball as African-Americans.The other nasty things are glaringly obvious but are another issue.

Tiana Grey
Tiana Grey
3 years ago

“I just checked in on the homepage and was greeted by multiple clips promising mini-versions of Flowers in the Attic. Ugh. Why am I here? Oh yes, to find out if PornHub will let me search for racist porn.”

Nah, you just ended up there to jerk off.

vince porter
vince porter
3 years ago

In order to be against porn, you have to know something about porn, and, nobody knows anything about porn because nobody watches it, except inveterate reporters who immediately signal they do not watch it except to write articles about it!. In short, no one shows up at the water cooler – plastic bottles having become verboten – and says, “Hey, have you seen that flick where this guy with the 12 incher…?” It’s a billion dollar industry without customers!

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
3 years ago

“Female orgasm” is also a category, for that subset of men who are interested in whether a woman actually enjoys it.

Has it never occurred to you that there are a lot of men who know very well that she does, and actually enjoy watching her do so?

Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
3 years ago

Please, all those who defend porn, defend this for me? I’m having trouble understanding how this is your freedom or right?
https://www.iwf.org.uk/news

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
3 years ago

Well nobody did it yet, so I’ll point out something that the obnoxious author has missed altogether: Erotic appeal is out of reach for tools like morality and political correction.
Discussing it is akin to discussing whether it is right or wrong that ocean waves exist, that people die or that birds can fly.
The author has firmly sedimented her reputation as a whining woke priestess with access to mass media. The only thing that keeps her here is the comments section.

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago

I search for Black Lives Matter: I get a video tagged “black cocks matter”,

The author is missing the essentially comedic aspect of porn which often comes out in its titles (“Shaving Ryan’s Private’s”, “Lust in Space” etc etc).

Comedic, because porn belongs to that part of life which we simply cannot be proud of. We can feel shame and guilt, or we can stop taking ourselves so seriously and accept that our fantasies are a bit ridiculous, break taboos that in normal life we would support, and reveal things about us that we really don’t want to acknowledge.

If Christians, feminists, anti racists, even porn crusaders find themselves aroused by fantasies that run contrary to their actual espoused views, well it’s just funny. Part of the great cosmic joke. Don’t beat yourself up, don’t lash out at others, you’re just going to have to come to terms with it.

And if you think immoral or unPC fantasy is a male preserve, you’ve got a deeply unsettling shock coming.

X Y
X Y
4 years ago

I am interested in why seemingly so many female journalists get so upset by porn. There seems to be a suspension of reason. There is so much porn online because there is so much demand. There are so many different genres because there there is a demand for all of them. It is pure business, there is no agenda, no porn would be there if enough people didn’t want it.

Any length of time spent on porn tube sites reveals that although the means of distribution may be quite centralised the means of production are not. There are hundreds of thousands of men and women making porn all over the world.

When one considers the billions of weekly views this is attracting, I have not found any journalist willing to challenge the assumption made by this one that porn production and consumption is inherently wrong. Why? People have a sexual impulse. For a great many people this is not satisfied by sexual congress because they do not have a willing sexual partner. How can it possibly be moral to say that this sexual impulse must be repressed rather than satisfied or that it can only be satisfied by fantasy not images of people having sex?

Why are vanilla sexual tastes ethically okay but others immoral?

My theory is that many heterosexual women fear pornography because they feel it reduces their sexual power over men. Men are less likely to act in ways which would otherwise not coincide with their interests due to their sexual impulses if these are easily satisfied by porn.. Thus the ready availability, ubiquity and range of porn is considered a bigger problem than its sheer existence since those factors allow the more ready satisfaction of sexual impulses whose non-satisfaction increases women’s power over men.

Who is questioning whether a desire to maintain and exercise that kind of asymmetric sexual power is ethical? Isn’t it a throwback to times gone by when society was patriarchal? Should heterosexual men view vibrators and dildoes as immoral on similar grounds?

julie garrou
julie garrou
2 years ago
Reply to  X Y

Womens’ sexuality is a display of power over men? What are you talking about? No woman I know feels like she is wielding power over her man when they have sex.
Porn typically depicts women as a series of holes to be used by men, not as human beings with the desire for satisfying touch and connection. So in that sense you are right- it is a depiction of men taking power from women.
If you think a woman who actually enjoys her sexuality, but doesn’t want to share it with you on-demand, is somehow an example of her taking power over you, or anything but her expressing her own preference and desires, then you are the one with the problem. You were raised by those horrible parents who tell their girls “he only hits you because he likes you” (I heard that one in first grade.) Or “don’t tell him no or you don’t like him because it will hurt his feelings.” God forbid a boy learn that he’s not allowed to grab and keep everything and everyone that he wants, or bless his heart he might have to feel something like sadness or rejection. So, if you think women use sexuality for power, and that’s their only power, then YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.
Women are allowed to tell you NO for a whole host of reasons, none of which have anything to do with YOU and your fragile ego. We get to want what we want whether that includes you or not. Grow up you giant toddler.

Andrew McGee
Andrew McGee
4 years ago

Same Old, Same Old. So you do not like the explicit depiction of nudity and sexuality. I can think of lots of things I do not like to see depicted on the screen. I am free not to watch them, just as you are free not to click on Pornhub or other similar sites. The difference is that I do not try to censor the things I dislike. your real problem is that porn is VERY popular with a lot of people, most of whom have progressed beyond the negative attitudes adopted and preached by various religionists as well as by a regrettable number of ‘feminists’. Get over it and learn to live with it.

Miss Fit
Miss Fit
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew McGee

Where did you get that she doesn’t like depictions of nudity and sexuality? She talks about racism and misogyny.

F Wallace
F Wallace
3 years ago
Reply to  Miss Fit

Probably the constant bitching about porn as a concept. And failing to understand categories by calling them “racist”

2 Roads
2 Roads
4 years ago

Right on. Great article. I’ve shared it with the 2 Roads network here: https://www.2roads.me/why-d

Perdu En France
Perdu En France
4 years ago

Let me address the author of the piece:
Why don’t you keep your interfering nose out of other people’s business. if you don’t like porn, don’t look at it.
The people involved in the making of porn are in favour of it or they wouldn’t do it.
The people who watch it must be in favour of it or they wouldn’t watch.
Neither are interested in your opinion.
Why do you expect something to be “cancelled” just because you don’t approve of it?
Just butt out & get a life, why don’t you?

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
4 years ago

Whoah! Although you do make some good points, I was more interested that your comment actually got through the Unherd moderators! I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but your success will no doubt diabolically tempt me to quench that dubious urge to be a lot nastier in my comments from now on!

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Dan Poynton

There are some animals out on here today.

But Perdu says anyone participating in something must favor it. This is the perfect example of modern morality. No judgement on good and bad, just if you do it or not do it deciding on if it is acceptable. But still, my guess is there is correct and not correct somewhere in that liberalism pseudo-morality as being not correct is the modern equivalent of evil, and is wonderfully subjective so completely relative and situational and thus acceptable to the morally fluid.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

How very pretentious. Presumably you are also an animal? African ape perhaps or something else?

dalrymplesdisciple
dalrymplesdisciple
4 years ago

Yep, imagine how “in favour of it” the “actresses” in “Broke Amateurs – Virgin Assholes Destroyed!” are. They definitely don’t wish they could earn money *any* other way. That must be why they have to be plied with cocaine and alcohol prior to taking part, to heighten the pleasure!