I recently corresponded with a writer from The Deseret News/Deseret InDepth.
According to their About page, the publication is “the first news organization and the longest continuously-operating business in the state of Utah. Owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints… its mission is to be a leading news brand for faith and family oriented audiences in Utah and around the world.”
This site is not the kind of space I usually speak to, and I was very excited for the opportunity to share some perspective with readers who may not automatically agree with everything I had to say — nor should they be expected to. Not all things must be liked or enjoyed by all and there is no such thing as universal approval, but I was excited by a willingness to share ideas and engage.
Unfortunately, the story was killed as editors determined it was a bit too edgy for The Deseret News’ audience. I was actually pretty disappointed by this, though I’m ultimately still heartened but the writer’s efforts, as well as by the site’s willingness to entertain their story pitch to whatever level they did.
The state of Utah, collectively, is one of the largest consumers of adult content online. And given cultural dimensions widely present in the state, I am guessing that Utah’s consumption is *not* being done ethically via credit card transactions/paying for content. Sadly, this means that the content being consumed, which is presumably done via piracy-based tube sites, is extra-opposite widely touted values on multiple levels.
Though one little interview can’t alter an entire tide, I was looking forward to sparking potential conversations in this space — not to change people’s minds per-se, but to shed a bit more light on the mechanics involved in consumption and address shame a bit too.
As per usual, my commentary correspondence is reprinted below in full — enjoy!
The Deseret News: Why is an ethical porn movement necessary, and how could it benefit both producers and consumers?
The Deseret News: Some critics charge that ethical porn is a marketing ploy designed out of desperation to get people to pay for porn again. What are thoughts on this?
The Deseret News: Does ethical porn content vary in significant ways from conventional porn, or does the term mostly apply to production standards and worker rights/benefits?
DrCT: The term “ethical porn” mostly applies to production standards and workers’ rights and benefits, though it most certainly can also apply to consumption. Because porn is a fantasy-based performance media, you can think of it like any other narrative film. Stories and depictions may not be to an individual’s taste – I may like action films, and you may not – but that does not make them unethical. It’s how the content is produced that is the cornerstone of any type of ethical production.
The best place to learn about what performers regard as ethical is from performers themselves. A great curation of performer statements about ethical production is on the SFW site — ethical.porn
On another level, how content is marketed is a very slippery issue. It must be made clear to performers the tenor of how their images and brands will be presented in order to fully get consent. For instance, a performer may fully consent to a scene but may not be ok with a title or marketing campaign surrounding the project. And though marketing dimensions may obviously change or evolve during the production process, efforts must be made to be as clear as possible about what marketing direction titles may be headed.
Finally, there is ethical consumption, or viewing porn in an ethical way. The idea that “ethical porn” is some sort of “desperate” “ploy” to get people to pay for porn heavily underscores how significant and needed the movement is. We would never dream, in 2018, of stealing content from Taylor Swift or Jordan Peele or Prince – in fact, Prince was one of the most anti-piracy aggressive artists around. And whether one regards porn as art or trash or something in between (or something else entirely), the fact remains that it is labor not at all unlike that of the work/art of Taylor Swift and Jordan Peele and Prince, etc.
We live in a world that is so sex phobic and so lacking in sex education that we have managed to both rely on adult content for sex ed – which it absolutely is not, nor does it ever pretend to be – while we simultaneously treat is as a good with zero value. That is the ultimate in exploitation – denying people the humanizing actualization that comes from acknowledging their labor has value.
So, for critics who suggest “ethical porn” is a ploy to get people to pay for the products they consume, I would simply ask: Do they expect to be paid for their labor?
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Get Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment on Amazon and CT.com.