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Quarantine got you feeling frisky? Here's how to ethically watch (free) porn

let's talk about 'it'

Content warning: this column discusses sexual assault.

Let’s face it, being stuck in quarantine is boring. With many of us at home pretending to pay attention to our Zoom classes, it sometimes feels like there are infinite hours in the day. While on campus some of us might have spent those extra hours engaging in some X-rated activities with another person(s), that is no longer an option given the nation-wide “stay at home” orders. Many—if not most—sexually active students have lost access to their usual partners and sexual networks during this time, meaning that the number of horny Duke students has increased exponentially, especially if the posts on the Gothicc Duke Confessions page are any indication. Though some students have been able to establish and maintain virtual sexual relationships, even more of us have turned to porn to help scratch that itch.

For some of us, opening our browsers and typing “pornhub” is not a new experience, but for others, this may be a first encounter with pornography. Regardless of whether you’re a porn connoisseur or just someone who’s curious, it’s important to be mindful of the ways in which we consume pornography, especially in the wake of recent allegations against sites like Pornhub for aiding in sex trafficking and profiting from videos of people’s sexual assault and abuse. The goal of this article is not to shame anyone who watches porn, but rather to provide resources for becoming a more ethical consumer.

Most people don’t like to spend money on things they can get for free… and porn is no exception. However, free pornography, especially the kind you’ll often find on sites like Pornhub and RedTube, is wrapped up in numerous ethical issues regarding consent. While we generally think of consent as only referring to the person(s) being filmed, consent still matters when it comes to the distribution of the video. This is exemplified by the problem of revenge porn: any revealing or sexually explicit images or videos of a person that have been uploaded online without their consent, typically by a former partner. Revenge porn is often uploaded to free porn sites like Pornhub, where it can be hard to remove.

Another consent issue that is often overlooked relates to the posting of paid content from adult content creators (like cam girls, professional and amateur adult performers) to free porn sites. Even though adult content makers consent to having their content online, their work is often protected by a paywall so that only people who pay can view it. When their content gets reuploaded to sites like Pornhub, for example, they most likely haven’t consented to its redistribution. This becomes a huge problem for sex workers who rely on people paying for their content for income, as it requires a significant invest of their time, money and physical labor to produce it.

Now that we’ve briefly discussed some of the ethical issues of consuming porn, you may be left wondering what the hell you’re supposed to do now—and that’s valid. So, here are four things you can do to become a more ethical porn viewer:

1. Pay for it.

At the end of the day, we should remember that porn is a luxury, and no one is entitled to have it for free. Though it’s common to hear jokes about how easy it must be to be a sex worker, it really isn’t. Both professional and amateur porn stars put a lot of money, time and effort in to produce the content that we like to watch, and at the very least, they should be paid accordingly. Understandably, many college students don’t have the extra money to spend $20 a month on a porn subscription. But if you are among the lucky few that does have disposable income and you like watching porn, consider getting a paid membership. By paying for the porn you watch, you’re putting money in the pockets of the sex workers that are producing that content, so they can continue to create more of the content you love. 

2. Check out performers’ verified pages.

Many porn stars, both professional and amateur, have verified pages on Pornhub, so look out for the blue checks. By going to their page and watching their content, you can still watch free porn, while also helping the creator, since Pornhub gives them a check based on the number of views on their videos. So not only can you still enjoy quality, explicit content for free, you also ensure its creators get paid.

3. Avoid watching stolen content.

This sounds simpler than it actually is. It can be hard to recognize when content is stolen, so here are a few tips for recognizing potentially stolen content. First, if the content is branded (often this means a watermark), but it was not uploaded by either one of the performers or by the production company (again, look for the blue checkmarks near the uploader’s username), it’s probably stolen. Second, most compilation videos include stolen content. According to sex educators, Lexual and Raquel Savage, unless the compilation features only content from one company or performer and it was uploaded by a verified user, the images or scenes were most likely stolen to produce the compilation. Lastly, avoid porn sites that market themselves as having “revenge” or “stolen” porn because it’s very likely the people involved did not consent to having their videos or images uploaded to that site.

4. Don’t use an adblocker.

We all know how annoying ads can be, but on free porn sites, they’re an extremely important revenue source for performers. So, if you can, avoid using an adblocker: it’s just as easy as pressing the “Skip Ad” button on YouTube, and it helps content creators make a living.

Finally, to reiterate, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying porn, free or not. What’s important is that in our efforts to get our rocks off, we’re not also accidently exploiting someone.

PASH is a student-run organization providing resources for sexual health and relationship-building. Their column, “let’s talk about ‘it,’” runs on alternate Mondays. To ask them a question about sex or relationships, submit to this form. This column was written by Michelle Katemauswa, a Trinity junior and the Vice President of PASH.

For those interested, here are some popular adult entertainment studios that create ethical, feminist and inclusive content:

1.  The Crash Pad

Created by Shine Louis Houston, The Crash Pad offers a large selection of inclusive queer X-rated films ($9.99 to $25 per month).

2.  xConfessions

A collection of over 150 sexually explicit short films based on anonymously submitted fantasies and confessions from members ($11.99 to $34.99 per month).

3.  EroticFilms

A huge catalogue of indie and inclusive softcore movies that are kink-inclusive, LGBTQ+ friendly and bound to help you get off ($6.95 to $9.60 per month).

4.  LustCinema

Created by Erika Lust, LustCinema is home to exclusive original series and feature films created by her and other female directors. Perfect for those who want high-quality, plot-driven and pleasure-centric sex scenes ($6.50 to $20 per month).

5.  PinkLabel.tv

Also created by Shine Louis Houston, PinkLabel.tv is a hub for inclusive queer and feminist films made by emerging independent filmmakers. Also contains content from The Crash Pad ($9.99 to $25 per month).

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