In case you missed it, the cryptocurrency market has turned explicit.
On Saturday, June 5, Elon Musk tweeted a series of emojis, which appeared to reference adult-themed cryptocurrency “CumRocket.” Within 10 minutes of his apparent endorsement, the currency had jumped by almost 400% from $0.06 to $0.28.
So, what is “CumRocket” and why should it matter to the anti-exploitation movement? Well, the ability to buy pornographic NFTs is problematic, and we’ll explain why.
Related: How Porn Can Promote Sexual Violence
What are cryptocurrency and NFTs?
To start off, here’s a quick review of what cryptocurrency and NFTs are.
Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by a specific kind of technology called “cryptography.” Cryptography makes cryptocurrencies and other digital assets nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend, which is rather important considering that they are generally not issued by central authorities such as governments.
You’ve probably heard quite a lot about Bitcoin and Ethereum recently—they are two of the most valuable cryptocurrencies in the world. They do not exist in the real world like a regular dollar, but they are still worth thousands and thousands of dollars per digital coin and can be used to purchase regular goods and services.
An NFT, or a non-fungible token, on the other hand, is a non-currency digital asset. That means it cannot be traded or exchanged in the way a cryptocurrency can. However, like cryptocurrencies, NFTs are still secured by cryptography.
NFTs are frequently used to represent real-world items like artwork and real-estate, and the reason we’re talking about them today is because CumRocket is creating porn NFTs.
What’s the issue with that? Read on.
CumRocket is legitimizing and normalizing the porn industry
By creating and distributing porn, CumRocket is further legitimizing and normalizing an industry that mass produces toxic content that harms its consumers, “suppliers,” and society at large.
From a consumer standpoint, a 2015 meta-analysis of 22 studies from seven countries found that, internationally, the consumption of pornography was significantly associated with increases in sexual aggression, both verbally and physically among males and females alike. Additionally, one review of 20 studies on the topic found that teen porn consumption negatively impacts adolescents’ self-esteem and mental health. We could go on and on with studies galore (and we do go on in these empirical data-packed articles on our site), but you get the point.
With “suppliers,” or porn performers, there is virtually no way to guarantee that any piece of pornographic content is truly consensual, ethical, or even legal. Mainstream porn performers can also be abused or taken advantage of in the industry with their abusers facing little to no repercussions. Of course, we’re not claiming that all porn contains abuse or nonconsensual content. But in order for consumers to make informed decisions regarding porn, we think it’s important to point out that some pornographic content isn’t consensual—and it’s virtually impossible to guarantee which is which.
With regard to society, as few as 1 in 3 and as many as 9 in 10 porn videos depict sexual violence or aggression. That’s especially concerning, considering that research indicates that these sexually violent narratives can bleed into consumers’ attitudes and behaviors. Most young people are getting at least some of their education about sex from porn, whether they mean to or not. This is especially concerning, considering how wildly unrealistic and toxic porn can be.
Porn NFTs mean that performers don’t need to provide consent
Owning a porn NFT renders porn performers unable to revoke consent or control of the product once it’s sold.
While this is true of the porn industry anyway in that pictures and videos can often be downloaded without the consent of the performers, the creation of porn NFTs exaggerates this existing issue—it creates another means by which material can be traded and used without consent, and it does so with potentially less traceability than before.
Consider the numerous former mainstream porn performers who have shared about the exploitation they endured while in the industry. Stories from popular former performers like Mia Khalifa have shed light on the predatory nature of the porn industry and the lack of control performers and former performers have over the content they performed in even after they’ve left the industry. NFT’s take this issue to a whole other level.
When performers have signed contracts and consented for their content to be sold as an NFT, they legally cannot revoke consent if something is done with the content that is abusive, exploitative, or unacceptable to them.
Yes, many performers participating in this aspect of CumRocket likely do so willingly, however, it’s been a fact of the porn industry overall that sometimes exploitation hides in plain sight.
Does porn empower women?
Some might clapback at our critiques of CumRocket by saying that it is a female-owned company that touts “female empowerment.” But does the porn industry care about empowering women, truly?
We’re not here to judge, control, or critique anyone’s sexual choices, we exist to give visibility to the facts that show how porn can be harmful. Some of those harms, undoubtedly, apply to women.
While the porn industry is commonly defended as a space of empowerment, especially for women, it is important to note that this same industry objectifies, humiliates, degrades, and exploits women unapologetically.
Consider how many videos on the homepages of porn sites all over the internet are glorified thinly disguised nonconsensual or coercive sexual encounters, or they’re videos that glorify sex as a weapon for punishment and torture—especially of women.
Consider how the porn industry significantly fuels and capitalizes on the problem of gender inequality and gender-based violence. The porn industry exploits the issues of sexual assault, abuse, and nonconsensual sexual encounters for entertainment, and profit.
Consider this 2020 study that entailed a large-scale content analysis and coding of a sample of 7,430 pornographic videos taken from the two most popular free porn sites, Pornhub and XVideos. The study found physical aggression against women present in 44.3% of Pornhub and 33.9% of XVideos scenes. In fact, the study found that physical aggression was substantially more common in online pornographic videos than verbal aggression. Specifically, women were the target of nearly 97% of all physically aggressive acts in the samples from both sites.
Violence in porn isn’t an exception, it embodies entire genres on porn sites.
Regardless of how you look at it, and regardless of who owns a particular porn-related company, porn very often capitalizes on the mistreatment of women.
Why this matters
What it comes down to is this: people are not commodities to be bought and sold. Yet, that’s a foundational premise of the porn industry as a whole and essential to CumRocket’s business.
Sexual exploitation is not a currency, it’s a current crisis that our society is dealing with on a massive scale.
That’s just one of the many reasons why we refuse to click.