Recent interviews with Mia Khalifa, one of the most famous adult performers in the world, have swept over social media and front news headlines as she discussed how the porn industry "preys on vulnerable girls" to trap them in contacts. She explained that in her three-month career, which has placed her highly in online rankings, she only earned $12,000 and has not received any more money despite the popularity of her videos.
For some, this column seems disconnected from the student population and possibly crude or distasteful, but a study in 2015 found that 72% of U.S. college students have reported accessing sex information and pornography online. Hence, understanding that a large majority of college students are accessing the goods from this industry, it’s critical to analyze the industry itself and the businesses within it. The modern porn industry contains unethical pornography businesses and websites, and as college students who frequently utilize these services, we cannot continue to use these unethical sex information providers.
Unethical porn, as described by Vex Ashley, an independent porn maker and cam performer at Four Chambers, is more than just a creepy man behind the camera, but also includes the exploitation of performers to pressure them into sexual acts that they might not want to perform, in addition to underpaying them and not providing extra income if the film is watched frequently. Additionally, Erika Lust, a sex-positive filmmaker behind Lust Films and Xconfessions, explains that ethical porn isn’t just for women but for anyone who has standards for where their consumed goods come from.
As a society, we have seen more pushes from various movements against businesses that actively discriminate, test on animals or destroy the environment. These businesses have, in more recent years, taken harsh criticism on platforms such as Twitter to change their practices; however, we have yet to see a movement that has pushed for ethical changes in the practices of the porn industry until now. Just as our society doesn’t support other types of unethical businesses, whether social or environmental, we should not support the unethical businesses in this industry. Khalifa’s active voice on the matter, along with the testimonies from many other adult performers, have helped raise red flags about the industry.
Yet despite the overwhelming amount of unethical porn creators that occupy the pornography industry, there are two main ways that college students are able to watch and support more ethical porn: interviews from the performers and paying for the videos.
Lynn Comella, an associate professor of gender and sexuality studies at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, explained that watching interviews or reading testimonies from your favorite adult performers about their experiences will help you understand their work and involvement in the industry. Not to mention, these interviews may help you identify certain businesses or creators that consistently do not treat their performers with dignity and respect.
The second option, which is a little easier to do without having to do research before, is paying for your porn. Comella continues to add that “Good porn consumers pay for their porn. That’s really, really important. Because if you are downloading for free or going to these tube sites, you’re basically making it harder for companies that want to support performers with good wages to do that.”
But if you are dead set on not paying for your porn, then there is the option to access the content through platforms that are not torrented and properly pay for the rights to share the videos, according to Stoya, a performer and pornographer. Stoya said it's better to choose any site not owned by MindGeek — the parent company of many popular sites.
Not only do a large majority of college students use the internet for "sexual entertainment," at about 75%, but this age demographic of 18- to 24-year-olds also makes up the largest group using porn websites. Therefore, it is within our duty as college students to change our habits and only support ethical porn practices. With three possible options, including a completely free option, this change should be an easy choice.