What Is Ethical Porn?

How do we define, consume, and search for ethical porn? Two erotic industry professionals tell us about the ethical porn movement.

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From the fair-trade labels on our coffee to green cleaning products, we live in the time of the ‘informed consumer’. Maybe we like to feel just a little bit better about ourselves at the grocery store or are active champions of a cause, but one consumer product remains rife with discourse. Porn. And how do we define, consume and search for ethical porn? I recently spoke with two erotic industry professionals to get a closer look at the nuances within the ethical porn movement.

The Ethos of Ethical Porn

Some of the main tenets of ethical porn include consent, fair pay, a respectful working environment and an authentic representation of pleasure and diversity. Some ethical porn producers aim to disrupt the historical value placed on the ‘male gaze’ and promote the desire perspective of women, queer, transgender and non-binary human beings.

Anna Richards, founder of the erotic pleasure platform FrolicMe, defines ethical porn as “being inclusive creatively and showing natural consensual pleasure for all to enjoy. From all those involved in the making of my pleasure-driven feminist videos, both in front of and behind the camera, everyone is fairly compensated for their contribution and feel valued for their abilities. I wanted to produce ethical and feminist porn to address the balance of pleasure and ensure the models are there with full and enthusiastic consent and knowledge of the expectations for the scene.”

Ethical porn shows better sex

Adult film actress, Angie Lynx, occupies both spaces as performer and content producer. When working with other ethical porn production houses, there’s an in-depth discussion including her do’s and don’ts, her feedback is welcome and nothing goes off script when shooting begins. Lynx also makes the connection between environment and end product. “When I feel good about the atmosphere, the sex reflects that.” And although she knows that verification is important, she jokes it can get a bit repetitive holding her ID up, stating her full name, that she’s sober and on set of her free will several times a day if she’s shooting multiple scenes.

This idea of enthusiastic consent and a quality working atmosphere are akin to our own experience of fabulous sex in our private lives. When we feel safe and our ‘yes’ is truly our ‘yes’ and the feeling in the room is saturated in authentic pleasure, it leads to better sex. Some ethical porn platforms curate content submitted by real couples or friends, high production arthouse aesthetics or performers revolutionizing body standards and sexual identities.

Richards creates a safe and supportive workplace from the beginning. “For me it starts with knowing your full team, both your production team (which I prefer to keep small and female biased) and to know your models personally. We have always had strong relationships with all our models (some are real life partners or just good friends) and work with many of them regularly. Before they come to set they understand the nature of the scene and who they will work with through to the style and image we are looking to create. From the start of the creative process we discuss with all involved which brings out the best on set chemistry and the style of films that FrolicMe has become synonymous for.” 

Can ethical porn get hardcore?

Within the industry, views on the relationship between ethical porn and hardcore scenes differ greatly. Mainly, can and does porn promote violence? Lynx thinks it’s important to make the distinction between violence against women and consensual BDSM. Many ethical porn platforms include clear consent throughout the script to not only show, but to educate viewers on what this process looks like during sex. 

Richards believes, “Being ethical is not only caring for those involved in the production but also in how we portray sex online. For me there is no room for betraying degrading and humiliating sex where it does not portray a positive balanced experience, regardless of the strength of the fantasy topics.”

Does Google support ethical porn?

We all know the drill. In the mood for some stimulation, we type in ‘lesbian porn’ or ‘kinky couples’ into that old familiar search bar. Google’s indexing gives us quite the list of free porn, generally referred to as tube sites. But in the heat of the moment, are users making sure they’re consuming ethical porn?

Richards articulates this issue as being due to “an over saturation and dominance of free porn that has been fuelled by the tube sites which does make it hard for independent creative ethical sites, particularly in light of a growing belief that porn should be free because so much is available for that… free.”

One way porn performers and producers are side stepping search indexing is with OnlyFans or ManyVids. As a direct route to content, Lynx thinks platforms like these could be the future of porn. However, she also acknowledges that the whim of the platform is ever present. Third party payment platforms also play an active role in censorship by publicly taking moral stands against offering payment methods with adult content.

One way to create more accessibility to ethical porn is to create more demand through our online behavior. And from a cultural perspective, attitudes around porn consumption are changing. A positive side to the massive online commercialization of porn is what Richards sees as leaving “many individuals not comfortable with the mainstream online imagery and keen to seek erotic sex and positive pleasure focused on lust and desire without shame and stigma.”

How do we support ethical porn?

Much like buying that fair trade coffee, it’s with our pocketbooks. And making the distinction between ethical porn as a mere buzzword versus a true practice. Much like greenwashing, consumers need to be aware of companies that Richards says merely “monetizes this term to win ground with little or any care for its ethos”.

She goes further,” When paying for your porn, just like any other subscription you may have, you are paying the site directly with an understanding of what they are providing. You are already accepting a standard of quality…that is most likely produced consensually and legally.”

As porn consumers, we have a responsibility to actively create market demand through our choices, online behavior and bank cards. As Richards says, “Porn will never go away but we can embrace the positive aspects and bring pleasure to so many in a safer, trustworthy way.”

I know what I’ll choose. How about you?

References:

Interview with Anna Richards, Founder of FrolicMe
Interview with Angie Lynx, Adult Film Actress

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