Parents Vs The Porn Industry Isn't A Fair Fight

In the end, the porn industry is concerned with profits, not our kids


pic: Scythers via Getty Images

A French pornography performer has taken to Twitter to slam parents for failing to teach their children about sex. After receiving messages of a sexual nature from boys as young as twelve, Nikita Belluci wrote,

“I’m getting sick of educating your kids. There is a complete lack of teaching and prevention, and it’s not our job to educate your kids.”

“Reflect on what your kids are doing in private, and the consequences of that.”

Belluci’s sentiments have been echoed by a series of industry representatives, including Sexpo special guest Ron Jeremy, in a recent video by ABC.

When asked if the porn industry had a responsibility to depict healthy sexual relationships, Jeremy, who has been barred from the Adult Video News awardsafter multiple rape allegations, disagreed.

“I like what you’re saying, but what would you do? It’s not my call to tell a filmmaker ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do this, none of this’ know, like, who are we to do that?” Jeremy concluded with a message to parents, “Watch your goddamn kids.”

Jeremy got one thing right - mainstream pornography is not where one might find healthy or positive approaches to sexuality. Rather, porn is a “distortion of respect-based sexuality” and a poor educational tool, one that routinely fails to depict consent, safe sexual practices or mutually pleasurable sexual experiences.

As Meghan Donevan put it in ‘Freedom Fallacy: The Limits of Liberal Feminism’, pornography

“portrays sex as an encounter predicated on submission and domination…in a fantasy world where women are always ready for sex, enjoy all types of sexual activity, including aggressive and degrading acts.”

Despite this, pornography has become the primary means of sexual education for young people, with porn serving as the introduction to intimacy for many children, and parents reporting feeling powerless to stop it.

While parents certainly have a responsibility to be engaged and to monitor their children’s internet access, it’s hardly a fair fight. Parents are going up against a massive almost $100 billion industry, one that has successfully embedded its product into mainstream culture. Media, advertising and popular culture have become increasingly pornified, Playboy is a global empire and porn performers are household names. Billboards for sex industry venues including strip clubs and brothels are positioned outside schools and government owned public buses are emblazoned with ads for live-streamed sex shows. Parents need to be vigilant, yes, but it’s impossible for parents alone to counter the dominant messages of a porn culture.

The porn industry also aggressively markets its product to children in a number of ways. These include studying children’s common keystroke errors in order to direct them to porn sites, and making pornography based on children’s favourite cartoon characters. The industry has also opposed measures like age verification on pornographic websites that could limit children’s exposure - and impinge on their profits.

According to the porn industry, when children and young people are harmed by their product- and they are- this is merely due to parental neglect, and not the dehumanising and abusive content they consistently churn out. Based on this logic, it is parents, not pornographers, who are responsible for pornography’s harmful impacts on kids.

In deflecting responsibility for harm to parents, the porn industry can continue unimpeded, releasing content like “punished teen”, “extreme teen humiliation” and “crying teen gangbang”, all categories found on Pornhub, the largest porn site on the Internet. The only problem with pornography premised on the humiliation, cruelty and abuse of women for men’s pleasure, then, is that children are accessing material intended for adults.

Performer Belluci rightly condemned the inappropriate behaviour from boys as young as twelve who approached her for nude photos and sexual favours. But where do twelve-year-olds learn to relate to women in this way? Where do they learn that they are entitled to women’s bodies, and that women exist for their sexual use and enjoyment? What industry grooms and shapes young people’s sexual expectations, attitudes and behaviours in this way?

This very disrespect of women is sanctioned in pornography. In porn, it is considered appropriate for men to view women in terms of male sexual gratification- that’s the point. But the porn industry can’t have it both ways. The sexually harassing and abusive treatment of women that is endemic to mainstream pornography can’t be unacceptable in the ‘real world’ and simultaneously endorsed when it takes place on a porn set. The abuse and degradation of women is either a barrier to women’s rights and humanity, or it isn’t.

In the end, the porn industry is concerned with profits, not our kids.

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