How the War on Porn Distracts Us From the Realities of Child Sexual Abuse

Content note: this piece includes discussion of child sexual abuse and incest.

The year is 2002. You have three days left of fifth grade. Elizabeth Smart had just been abducted from her home in Utah. Your teacher stops your social studies class and warns you not to talk to strangers over your summer vacation. She tells you to avoid unknown men when you walk to your friend’s house, avoid them in chatrooms. Children are apparently being kidnapped left and right. Sold into pedophile rings, forced to appear in pornographic videos. Lured by men offering lollipops in white vans and on the new scary thing called the internet.

You return home and your mother is less concerned about strange men and more concerned about men familiar to you. She doesn’t say so explicitly but ever since you were 4 of 5 she has been warning you about your friend’s fathers, their brothers, your priest, the teenage boy who lives next door, and your uncles. All are potential predators in her eyes. “No one is allowed to touch you while you’re in the bathroom,” she cautions before you leave for your best friend’s slumber party that evening. “No one is allowed to touch you while you sleep.”

Twelve years later, when you’re 23, you start working in porn. First, you shoot two videos, then you begin working as an admin for the small indie company. You kind of like your job, but not enough to stay. You hear reports that state that Pornhub is rife with child sexual abuse. You work in a small company so you’re not sure if they’re sensationalism or real. Recently, you read a column in the The New York Times by Nicholas Kristof that claims Pornhub “monetizes child rape” and compares the company to the networks that bolstered Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein. You read about a bipartisan bill called, Stop Internet Sexual Exploitation Act (SISEA), which wants to enact strict regulations on the porn industry in the hopes of stopping the flow of sexual content of minors.

How Did Sex Work Get Linked to Child Abuse?

Born in the early ’90s, I grew up in a world that painted danger outside the home. Risk lived in white vans. It lived on the net. It lived in porn. New shows theorized for hours about the fates of Madeline McCann and Elizabeth Smart, speculating about what type of evil person could take an innocent child in the night. My teachers mulled over whether their abductions were part of organized pedophile rings; my friends voiced their fears of being violated by strangers. I was afraid too… but I was less afraid of walking alone than my friends, less afraid of unknown men because my house wasn’t cloaked in stranger danger. Rather, it was unearthed with information of child sexual abuse that I didn’t know how to deal with.

Children being used sexually, children being neglected by adults who were supposed to love and care for them were conditions of everyday, banal life that I was familiar with. I knew my neighbor tried to molest my three-year-old cousin. I knew that my grandma’s boyfriends molested my mother and her siblings when they were young kids. And I knew that my father was groomed into a multiple year-long relationship with a neighbor as a child, a man everyone in his neighborhood loved and respected. A part of their history that my mother alluded to when I started making friends in our apartment complex and attending sleepovers, a history she fully unleashed in moments of strife.

The awareness of my family trauma coexisted with the public’s fear of strangers, leaving me to believe in two disparate layers of harm. Harm happened inside homes, I concluded, but organized crime, the crimes my teachers talked about, occurred at the hands of strangers. Throughout my adolescence, I held a hazy sketch in my head of a criminal network that trafficked children and spat them out onto the internet. A loose idea, like a dream, that behind signs that advertised Live Nude Girls and porn sites lied an underworld, a dark web that manufactured child pornography.

Child sexual abuse is not easy to talk about. Its prevalence is alarming, as is the knowledge that proof of it proliferates on the internet. Even though I knew it was something that happened growing up, but I didn’t understand enough to speak about it. I had access to vague details that surfaced during screaming matches with my mother, during childhood tantrums, when she shouted about what she endured inside her childhood home, her trauma uncontained and unprocessed. Had I not become a sex worker, I might never have started questioning the neat, separate categories that I crafted in fifth grade about danger; about who and what poses the biggest threat to children’s well-being.

I worked in porn for a year and then as a stripper for another four. During my five years as a sex worker, I encountered the same notion that I believed as a kid: that adult entertainment is a danger to youth. This idea drives legislation ranging from the 2001 New York City zoning ordinance that prohibits strip clubs from operating within 500 feet of a school to the new bill SISEA that attempts to reduce child sexual abuse through policing adult pornography. But it really became poignant to me when I read a report in the Times-Picayune, a reputable left-leaning newspaper in New Orleans, that described Bourbon Street as a ‘playground for pimps’ in 2018. I was stripping on the tourist-drenched street at the time and shocked to see my place of work described as “a brutal and sadistic underworld that hides in plain sight.” The conditions I was working in were less than ideal – I was annoyed with the lack of cameras in the private rooms and the slippery water leaks when it rained – but it was far from a ruthless netherworld.

After the story ran, police squads stormed into the clubs, arresting dancers and shuttering businesses under the veneer of saving minors from the greedy clutches of the industry. The police raided a total of eight clubs. No victims of trafficking were uncovered, no illegal syndicates, no dark webs, no rolls of child porn. Experiencing that strange disparate reality, it was impossible to maintain illusions of what exploitation of children looked like. For a year or so, I believed that criminal rings that profit off the sexual labor of minors were something that journalists and politicians fabricated to police sex workers and push the industry out of sight. All that fear of children being taken in the night, being held against their will, I thought was nothing more than whipped up panic from a few rare insistences of stranger abductions. It turns out the truth is messier and much more complicated.

Minors coerced into sex for money, minors coerced to perform in pornographic content are part of our current world. But the perpetrators, in most cases, hide behind a familiar face. One study of 150 adult survivors who indicated that they had appeared in sexual abuse material as children found that 82% of abuse was organized by a direct family member, who either shot the content or facilitated others doing so. Despite all the warnings about strange men lurking in vans, only 4% of the abuse occurred by strangers when the child was being victimized by one person; 2% when the child was abused by multiple people. The rest were biological fathers, stepfathers, acquaintances of the family, mothers, stepmothers, brothers, sisters, grandmas, aunts, uncles, and trusted members of the community such as clergy, police officers, teachers, counselors, and babysitters. A surprising number of respondents, both to me and the researchers, were victimized by more than one person. 58% were abused within a large extended incestuous family or as part of a network surrounding the family, revealing an uncomfortable reality about the systemic harm of minors.

This was, of course, only one small study and self-reports may be as shaky as memory. But their findings confirm reports coming out of the heart of the opioid epidemic in West Virginia, where cases of parents renting out their children for drug money have surfaced. It’s also similar to the familial trafficking depicted in the podcast Root of Evil and the Netflix documentary Tell Me Who I Am. Altogether, they shed light on the obscure pedophile rings that I used to believe operated outside the home, that liberals believe lurk in the dark depths of Pornhub, that QAnon supporters believe are run by demonic politicians. Networks that coerce children into sexual labor; networks that commodify their bodies, their vulnerability, are more often than not just extended families.

The tragic and revealing 385-page report details histories of abuse that spanned years, a history of sexual content of children that cannot be separated from family violence and neglect. Behind the images and videos, lived a full picture of blackmailing, priming, grooming, neglect, and emotional manipulation that allowed harm to prevail unnoticed by outsiders. In some cases, the respondents felt pressure to comply simply by their status as a child (my father knows best; I should do what he says). In other cases, yielding seemed like the only way to get attention, an act that was normalized because everyone in the family was involved.

These conflicting feelings reveal what Judith Levine discusses in her seminal book Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children From Sex. “The worst devastation is wrought not by sex per se but by the betrayal of the child’s fundamental trust,” she writes. “And the closer the relation, the more forced or intimate the sex acts, and the longer and later in a child’s life they persist, the more hurtful is the immediate trauma and longer-lasting the harm of incest.”

Reading the report, I asked myself what happened. How did years of familial trafficking slip through public consciousness? How did conversations of incest evade conversations about child sexual abuse imagery?

To understand that, we have to go back.

The History of Child Sexual Abuse’s Coverage in the US

My mother was born in 1965, eighteen years before America faced the prevalence of child sexual abuse festering behind suburban fences. Several books and articles on incest and sexual assault against children hit the shelves in 1978, suggesting 20% of the female population had experienced a form of sexual abuse, the bulk of which was perpetrated by a family member or someone the child knows (many authors acknowledged that abuse against boys was most likely going unreported, but none were ready to face that anyone but men committed harm). These numbers weren’t new. Freud originally claimed that it was common for girls to experience sexual abuse by a family member. In 1955, Alfred Kinsey estimated that 25% of girls under 14 had experienced sexual abuse, weaving a consistent and omnipresent problem across decades, but the world was not ready to acknowledge it then. Sexual harm was thought to be extremely rare or just the product of a girl’s active and wishful imagination — a sentiment perpetuated by Freud, who redacted his original statement after public furor. This attitude lasted through my mother’s youth in the late ’60s and early ’70s. It was only after the women’s and civil rights movements, when stories of interpersonal violence startled the public, that reality settled in.

Suspected cases flooded the 80’s, overwhelming professionals and exhausting the dwindling number of resources available. Under Reagan, many demanded a return to an idealized family, an alluring fantasy that would dial back the clock on women’s and adolescents’ rights to reproductive care and sexual education and freedom. To face the power relationships inside nuclear families, to grasp how valorizing child submission might serve as fertilizer for incest would have caused an unbearable clash of moral beliefs. Instead, as Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes discuss in their podcast You’re Wrong About, the knowledge of abuse shifted elsewhere, landing on our fear of women working outside the home. Daycare workers were accused of running satanic pedophiles rings, shooting rolls and rolls of child porn, a wave of whom were tried for sexually assaulting children without a shred of substantial proof.

The result was that the depth and scope of abuse, most of which was a form of coercive incest, remained buried. Americans were not ready to accept what psychologist Christine A. Courtois wrote in her 1988 book Healing the Incest Wound: “Incest occurs regularly in our society,” she writes. “Perpetrated by individuals who, for the most part, would otherwise be regarded as normal.”

The ’90s came, bringing the internet and the expansion of the criminal justice system under the guise of supporting victims. Child sexual abuse was recognized but only as a crime of monsters. Men broken beyond repair, men who should be locked up and never spoken about again. Sex offender registries were created, banishing all on the list — in some states including sex workers — to an extreme life on the margins and a splattering of beatings from vigilantes.

As the chatrooms and dial-up expanded, so did fear of children being abducted and exploited for sexual content. In 2008, a slew of congressional hearings debated a new bill seeking to thwart this “national epidemic of grown men using the internet to solicit underage girls,” as one newscaster reported. Florida Congresswoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, discussed how the internet enabled an exploding “multi-million market of child pornography.” Then a victim spoke: “I am that 13-year-old girl who was lured by an internet predator and enslaved by a sadistic, pedophile monster.” She goes on to say how she thought she was chatting with a peer online who turned out to be a “middle-aged pervert.” This man organized her kidnapping with a stranger who beat and raped her, and “shared his prized pictures with his friends on the internet.”

Now 19, the woman, Alicia Kozakiewicz, concluded: “The boogeyman is real and he lives on the net. He lives on my computer and he lives in yours. While you’re sitting here, he’s at home with your children.”

Her words clinched the deal. The Protect Our Children Act became law and secured millions of dollars for the Department of Justice to study the problem and outline a strategy. But that law turned out to be nothing but lip service. Over ten years, only two reports were filed; nothing was theorized or planned, and nothing was done to address the problem.

Recent Media Coverage’s Shift Towards Porn

Just as it did in the ’90s and the aughts, establishment media has been alleging that child pornography is roaring out of control. Instead of warning parents to watch out for men lurking behind computers, the focus now has turned towards tech companies like Facebook and Google and Pornhub, which have all been accused of contributing to the problem — not only for failing to stem the sea of images but for fostering an environment that cultivates sexual abuse.

The New York Times discussed how reports of child sexual imagery to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have jumped remarkably in the last 10 years, once in a 2-part series on the Daily Podcast in 2020 which featured a woman who had recently discovered that her ex-husband was molesting their young daughter and uploading videos of it, and again in the column by Nicholas Kristof titled The Children of Pornhub. The latter patches together a collage of minors whose videos were uploaded without their consent — all cases, except for one whose backstory wasn’t provided, that occurred inside the privacy of a dysfunctional relationship, the content uploaded either by a boyfriend or a family member.

Neither the podcast nor the column, however, look at the dynamics behind the camera. Nor did they question whether the increase in reports was simply due to the widespread adoption of broadband and mobile phones; whether this explosion of telecommunication simply pried open our eyes to a problem that already existed. Untethered, the statistic feels egregious and terrifying, prompting the reporters to balk at the unfathomable scale of abuse we’re currently swimming in and inspiring scrolls of comments expressing horror and cries for action against all tech conglomerates, though particularly Pornhub.

It’s a feeling that lawmakers must have had too. After the column was published, Ben Sasse (R-Neb) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore) drafted SISEA, which (if it becomes law) will require companies that allow sexual content to take down reported videos within two hours, maintain a 24-hour hotline to notify unauthorized videos, and construct a database of previous victims that every new upload has to be compared against.

In theory, this could save someone from the humiliation and helplessness of having the videos your boyfriend, father or adopted family uploaded of you without your consent viewed and shared. And, really, all sites that feature content ranging from journalistic articles to pornographic content should allow people to control how images of their bodies are viewed and reproduced. But ethical intentions need to look at the bigger picture to actually reduce harm. Two hours is an extremely tight window that ironically only MindGeek, which owns Pornhub, would have the infrastructure and money to comply with. Smaller and independently owned porn sites, as well as Twitter (which is the last social media platform that allows sex workers to advertise their content, discuss their work, and connect with each other), may not be able to afford nor care to acquiesce with such regulations. This would collapse the porn industry into one monopoly, reduce independent work and income options for adult entertainers, and curtail the freedom for adults to express themselves.

This all might be palatable if it actually stopped the sexual abuse of children, revenge porn, and adults commodifying their kids. But SISEA was inspired by an old pattern in mainstream reporting that deploys tragic stories without questioning the power dynamics in relationships that foster abuse. The traumas of appearing in child sexual abuse imagery are real and ugly, but it’s a product of old wounds sown into American history. If child pornography was burgeoning, then rates of child sexual abuse would be skyrocketing as well. Self-reports show a slight decline since the 1950s, while a mixture of surveys and reported cases with Child Protective Services show that it’s been on the decline since the 1990s. Labeling it as a new virus only serves to blind us to the past, and stirs panic that pours money into law-enforcement programs which  police sex workers and rally support for censorship against porn — neither of which will stop violence from unfolding in families.

Has Anything Changed?

My parents did not repeat the cycle. They did not molest me or my siblings. Like them, most childhood victims don’t grow up to become abusers either — but in some cases, maltreatment can transmit from generation to generation, proliferating inside both dysfunctional and emotionally starved families. Knowing this, I’m grateful that I was provided a less violent childhood. But I did grow up in a household where my needs were not seen as separate from my parents. What my mother wanted, she assumed I wanted. When I expressed difference, she bristled; sometimes became violent. She struggled, I think, to understand that the five of us were separate individuals, a lack of delineation that was no doubt taught to her by the adults in her childhood who didn’t acknowledge her personhood.

Although she came of age in the ’80s and reached her early fifties during MeToo, she still lived in a world that didn’t want to believe who her perpetrators were. She watched as Americans expressed widespread support for Harvey Weinstein’s victims but not Dylan Farrow. She watched as powerful men dropped like dominoes except for Woody Allen. She watched as society rallied behind women, believed their stories of assault and anguish like never before, as long as it didn’t occur by a family member.

Without the cultural acknowledgment of family violence, I don’t think she ever had the opportunity to explore what happened to her. To feel like what she underwent was real and sit with the uncomfortable truth that the adults who loved her also harmed her. And I don’t think my father did either. He grew up with the notion that harm only comes to girls, to the ‘weaker’ sex — a belief many still hold today.

For all our tweets and shouts about believing victims, we are far from accepting the dimensions of what children face. Blaming porn is not too dissimilar from blaming demonic politicians or Hollywood elite. While the latter seems more extreme, they both describe details of existing abuse yet push it underground, label it a dark underbelly of our society where monsters live, language that only feeds the shame and silence surrounding sexual abuse. All so we don’t have to hold a mirror to our reality.

And reality has been spelled out by researchers for the last four decades. In her 1981 book, Father-Daughter Incest, Judith Lewis Herman explains that child abuse is built into the structure of a traditional family: the power we grant fathers (and parents), the expectations of child submission, barring children from talking about sex and exploring their own bodies, the idea that families have the right to privacy and should keep their own dirty laundry secret. “Add repressed desire, and the potential of incest festers,” she writes.

The family is considered the backbone of society that keeps us from descending into chaos, the warm hearth to escape the dangers of the world. Starting a family is seen as a necessary milestone, a way to become a valuable and real member of society. In order to stare child sexual abuse in the face, we would have to accept that an integral part of what defines us is a lie… or, at least, a half-truth. Maybe home was both safe and dangerous, both stable and volatile, depending on the day or year. For some, I imagine, this is a common contradicting reality. Projecting outside the home relieves the pressure of the cognitive dissonance, allowing people to accept the darker shades of our world without disrupting their understanding of normal.

Sex Workers: The Scapegoat

To protect the pillars that surround the Family, we need a scapegoat. Women who work outside the home have always been considered a threat. Just as daycare workers encountered vitriol and baseless allegations of harm against children in the ’80s and ‘90s, sex workers are now the vessels society empties its anguish and anger into. In the way that misogyny blames women for the violence of men, sex workers are blamed for the abuse of children.

Often when laws and bills like SISEA are introduced they seem altruistic. An average person not schooled in sex work politics won’t understand how much harm censorship can cause in a profession that survives on visibility. But other times politicians are blatant about their plans to push ‘fallen women’ back into the shadows where they can remain the other. On April 1st, Republican Paul Gosar of Arizona urged the Attorney General to investigate OnlyFans for profiting off of ‘online prostitution’ and to ‘protect vulnerable people from platforms that promote coercive immoral and sexual activity.’

Not only has OnlyFans kept vulnerable people afloat during the pandemic while the government floundered over unemployment and offered many the financial means to escape coercive relationships, but it also serves another vital purpose. Like Twitter, it provides outsiders access to sex workers’ day-to-day lives; their thoughts, their dreams, the ingredients that render them human. The more genuine sex workers seem, the less the visible industry can take the brunt of the blame for the assaults Americans have been committing against their kids for decades.

Where Do We Go From Here?

We could spend millions of dollars making sure child abuse never leaves the home by surveilling and scrubbing every corner of the internet.

I don’t want anyone to relive their trauma with the knowledge that their videos are being watched again and again. I would love to hear solutions that don’t involve regulating adult porn sites to death and don’t set off waves of stranger danger, which, as Judith Levine writes, only serves to strengthen the nuclear family by spreading suspicion of outsiders and further isolates children in abusive homes.

I want to live in a world where families have boundaries, where subtle manipulation isn’t the norm in relationships. And for that, we have to take the energy and resources that we’re spending extolling the harms of pornography and put it towards addressing the complicated mess of child sexual abuse.

We have to start asking ourselves: what do we do with fathers who are both perpetrators and victims? With the sister who climbs into bed with her younger brother after years of being molested by their father? With the families who coerce their children into spending alone time with their friends for money? Do we throw the entire family in jail? What if mom, dad, and grandma are involved? Do we put the kid in foster care where they will statistically be likely to be revictimized? What do we do with men who wreak harm over and over again, destroying lives in their wake? What do we do with these multiple realities?

I don’t have the answers. All I have is a loose sketch of the family trauma we have all inherited. But I think it’s time we start asking. It’s time we start looking in.

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Reese Piper is a writer and stripper living in Brooklyn. She is currently working on a memoir. Follow Reese on Twitter

Reese has written 3 articles for us.

11 Comments

  1. This is a thoughtful, nuanced article on a topic that rarely gets that kind of treatment. Thanks for working to school less informed readers (like myself) on sex work politics and the harm that can come from ignoring the details and attempting to address the wrong root cause.

  2. This was some remarkable reporting and writing. Would love A/S to give it some social media love on the instas so I can share with my own circles/get people fucking thinking again. Amazing work, thank you!!

  3. “We could spend millions of dollars making sure child abuse never leaves the home by surveilling and scrubbing every corner of the internet.”

    This is an astonishing piece of writing and research on an incredibly difficult topic, and this sentence crystallizes the issue so well. Thank you so much for your work here.

  4. This really illuminates the way patriarchal family structures conceal and perpetuate abuse – and the way patriarchal media/political structures use the same technique of scapegoating to render the “issue” hyper-visible while redacting the root cause. The example of Dylan Farrow is just so stark! Thank you for your conclusions – inviting us to answer these questions puts people and not bureaucracies/corporations at the centre of solving the problem, invites an abolitionist approach to reducing harm, and is a step towards actually creating safety and justice for children and survivors and perpetrators.

  5. This is an awesome article. I loved the comparison you made between Woody Allen and Harvey Weinstein, and I’m glad I got to read your point of view on this subject. I feel like I understand it a lot better :)

  6. I wasn’t sure I was going to read this. And I’m not sure how to respond. This takes a lot of things I already knew (some from personal experience) and some things I didn’t know and puts them together in ways I hadn’t thought of.

    I’ve thought for a long time that we as a culture don’t know how to deal with sexual abuse because we’ve only recently recognized that it’s a problem. It never occurred to me to think that part of that is because we don’t want to look at the family unit. I have to think about this more.

    (TW for the rest of my comment).

    I was born in 1969. My grandfather abused two generations in my family, including me and my mother. There are family rumors of abuse in his generation as well. My mother did a tremendous job in raising me in a less dysfunctional family than she grew up in but she didn’t protect me, she couldn’t see that I was in danger because that would have required her to acknowledge her pain. And she wasn’t able to be as present to me and my sib because she couldn’t be fully present to herself. She needed to be in denial to survive. And I feel both gratitude and anger towards her. It’s tangled and messy and I almost never talk about this part of my history with people who also aren’t survivors of some kind of abuse.

    I’ve been fighting to heal for decades now. It’s my proudest accomplishment. And it’s one that I don’t talk about much. I’m still trying to figure out how visible I want to be. It’s weird because I want credit for how hard I’ve worked but I’m also really private and self protective. I kind of sat out the #MeToo movement – it came at a bad time mental health wise and I just couldn’t handle reading about it. And I also couldn’t see posting #MeToo myself.

    It’s interesting the comment about Harvey Weinstein being brought down but not Woody Allen. Which is true. But I felt reading the (little that I could handle) coverage of Harvey Weinstein that it sure sounded familiar to me, as a survivor of incest. The dynamics sure seemed like what I grew up with.

  7. This is hands down the most thoughtful piece I’ve ever read on childhood sexual abuse. Thank you for bringing all these components together to illuminate the larger picture of what’s going on in our culture. I feel like you’ve articulated the vague understanding I’ve been coming to much more clearly that I’ve ever been able to.

  8. Thank you for writing this piece – very well articulated and it must have been so much work. I’m too tired to face organising my thoughts but I have a lot of thoughts on this topic and it seems we are completely in agreement.

  9. This is an incredible work of journalism. I hope it is shared and reposted widely, as you were able to tie together so many important elements of the problem that usually gets dissected individually when intersectional work (and funding) is needed to create any lasting change. Thank you!

  10. Hello.
    I’m sorry, but I completely disagree because evidence says otherwise. Pornography is often times recorded child abuse. And let me clear, when I say pornography, I am not talking about consenting adults videotaping themselves and others viewing it. I’m talking about the institution of pornography. And that isn’t above criticism.

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/dec/14/pornhub-purge-removes-unverified-videos-investigation-child-abuse

    Please note this wasn’t a brief slip up. We’re talking MILLIONS of videos of child abuse, and sex trafficked individuals. And please note that just because the corporate masters down at Pornhub pinky promised to do a better job @ moderating doesn’t really mean anything. Why is teen pornography still a category? Why can I still view videos of nude teen girls on pornhub? why are there literally millions of videos of teen girls engaging in fist fights for people to masturbate to?
    That’s because pornography is an institution where men are at the top, they are the owners of production, they determine the major trends and tastes, and they are the major consumers. Pornography is men showcasing sexual dominance over women by creating an industry where women are consumed and men are the consumers. Inserting other genders into this role doesn’t do anything to modify the power structures at play; instead it tokenizes them. It’s not the workers fault either. It’s an oppressive system that spells trouble for people who become addicted to it, or people who find themselves victimized by it.

    And there’s no shortage of objective, science based material that showcases the dangers to health that pornography poses either.
    https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/rebooting-porn-use-faqs/what-are-the-symptoms-of-excessive-internet-porn-use/

    Where Do We Go From Here?
    We could spend millions of dollars making sure child abuse never leaves the home by surveilling and scrubbing every corner of the internet. -Okay, so as a communist, I prefer the idea of a publicly owned internet to the shitshow that it is now. It’s not unrealistic and it’s not dogmatic to prefer to NOT see women and children being hypersexualized through the Male Gaze, as this negatively effects our collective self-esteem.

    I don’t want anyone to relive their trauma with the knowledge that their videos are being watched again and again. I would love to hear solutions that don’t involve regulating adult porn sites to death and don’t set off waves of stranger danger, which, as Judith Levine writes, only serves to strengthen the nuclear family by spreading suspicion of outsiders and further isolates children in abusive homes.-Really? MILLIONS OF VIDEOS, here. This wasn’t an isolated incident. Mindgeek this year is raking in a revenue of $460 million so far, and you’re calling for less regulation? How does them being less regulated honestly benefit you or the average sex worker? I’ll tell you, not one bit as far as I can see. Does MindGeek care about paying the actresses more? About giving them economic opportunities and job skills that will allow sex workers to eventually leave porn? Does MindGeek care about enforcing content that shows consensual, healthy and protected sex? Does MindGeek and other porn companies encourage sex workers to unionize for better pay and benefits? Or do those industries simply exist to lobby Congress into normalizing their existence further?
    Oh yeah, by the way does anyone remember when pornographers fought and won for right not to enforce standards of PPE on set? Please tell me how that doesn’t actively hurt the actresses, or even the children who try to get into pornography.

    I want to live in a world where families have boundaries, where subtle manipulation isn’t the norm in relationships. And for that, we have to take the energy and resources that we’re spending extolling the harms of pornography and put it towards addressing the complicated mess of child sexual abuse.-That’s because it’s been proven they’re both interrelated. They’re conflated together for aactors. If that weren’t the case, then why is it when 18 year olds like Danielle Bregoli or Bella Thorne join Only Fans they end up reason. And that’s because mainstream pornography conditions men into wanting more extreme pornography with younger and younger “breaking the internet.” The consumers want to see child abuse and they want to see young people hypersexualizing themselves. Look at what happened to Mia Khalifa. She is one of the highest grossing porn stars ever and made chump change at the end of the day because she got played by the business. And people will still be arrogant enough to say “she did it to herself” and witness the self-lacerating sexist and racist abuse she encountered on set.

    We have to start asking ourselves: what do we do with fathers who are both perpetrators and victims? With the sister who climbs into bed with her younger brother after years of being molested by their father? With the families who coerce their children into spending alone time with their friends for money? Do we throw the entire family in jail? What if mom, dad, and grandma are involved? Do we put the kid in foster care where they will statistically be likely to be revictimized? What do we do with men who wreak harm over and over again, destroying lives in their wake? What do we do with these multiple realities?- pornography encourages these fucked up realities by trivializing them into porn categories. Incest and rape are popular categories when in reality nobody should tolerate them, period. Even as a fantasy, because there’s no excuse. Fantasy reflects the material conditions of the subject.
    I don’t have the answers. All I have is a loose sketch of the family trauma we have all inherited. But I think it’s time we start asking. It’s time we start looking in.-Agreed. I think it’s time we revitalize Andrea Dworkin and stick it to the men who are profiting off of the oppression of women and children. This is why we can’t look at sex worker liberation as a singular issue. We must engage in and demand a revolution, that fosters a culture of respect and consent. Entering into a certain labor market shouldn’t be predicated on how attractive one is, what one’s gender or age are, etc. Marginalized people should have equal access to all labor markets, so they don’t have to resort to sex work if they don’t want to.

    Conclusion: Pornography influences, shapes, and molds most of us at some point, if we have an internet connection, or watch television and an impulse towards it. You don’t even need to watch porn to be influenced by it. Mainstream beauty standards reflect mainstream pornography that reflects the collective male fantasy. Pornography is a result of the economic system we reside in, in which women are coerced into becoming the intellectual or otherwise property of men. Even if you think you’re being liberated by making an OnlyFans, remember that the CEO is pulling in more money than you’ll ever see in your lifetime. Inserting people of other genders into the position of the oppressor or consumer doesn’t make it less harmful. That’s like saying the small town credit union has the capacity to combat the Federal Reserve. We must demand revolution.

    Other sidenote: I’m not just a troll who is talking shit, or a “SWERF” or whatever. I was one of those underage girls at one point in my life that had an older porn obsessed male groom me into making videos he released without my consent.
    You’re welcome.

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