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6 Marginalized & Vulnerable Groups of People Porn Fetishizes

How is it acceptable for porn to exploit, fetishize, and dehumanize specifically marginalized people groups or situations?

By February 2, 2022No Comments

Trigger warning: Trigger warning for descriptions of pornographic content and inclusion of derogatory terms in porn video titles.

The porn industry seems to have no boundaries when it comes to who they’ll exploit or dehumanize in the name of sexual entertainment.

In fact, if something is considered taboo, unacceptable, or off-limits in society, producers are all the more likely to exploit it for shock factor and sell it as a sexual “fantasy.” This is a problem because porn isn’t exactly like the movies—producers don’t show things so people can learn, have empathy, be entertained by a solid joke or humorous situation, or gain an understanding of a complex issue through scripts and storytelling.

Porn does something entirely different.

Porn glorifies the abuse, degradation, and dehumanization of those on-screen by specifically intending their humiliation to be sexual entertainment. These fetishized situations in porn have no regard for the dignity or humanity of any one person depicted.

Related: Does The Porn Industry Really Care About Empowering Women?

Porn intentionally makes objects out of people, some of whom are struggling with poverty, are young and vulnerable in age, are marginalized because of their race or sexual identity, or have certain disabilities or physical/mental challenges. So much content on porn sites exploit, fetishize, and dehumanize specifically marginalized people groups or situations—how is this acceptable?

Watch expert Taina Bien-Aime discuss how the issues porn fantasizes wouldn’t be accepted under any other circumstances:

Now, it isn’t news that pornographers prey on “plots” involving marginalized people, selling their vulnerabilities as sexual fantasy at the expense of those exploited as well as those consuming. Yet, isn’t it interesting how in porn so many things are normalized that wouldn’t be tolerated in any other scenario?

Here are six quick examples of societally marginalized groups of people who are exploited and fetishized by the porn industry.

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1. Incarcerated persons

In today’s extreme mainstream porn world, the illusion of scripted fantasy isn’t enough—now, it’s becoming more popular for “real” videos of exploitation to be sought after and demanded. And pornographers and porn content-creators alike have no issue with making content that satisfies that growing demand.

Consider the story of the Florida attorney who was accused of paying female inmates to take explicit photos and videos with him for his “Girls In Jail” porn series.

Related: Police: Florida Attorney Caught Filming Porn Videos In Jails With Female Inmates

Yes, this really happened, but he’s no pioneer of the prison genre when it comes to porn. Consider how one quick search on the internet reveals thousands of prison abuse videos, specifically focused on violently mistreating incarcerated people—and all of these videos are created with the intention to sexualize this abuse and to arouse a consumer.

This is just one example of how the porn industry disregards people to sexualize and fetishize any and every situation possible, even if that person is a marginalized inmate.

2. Immigrants and refugees

One of the most popular pornography companies in the world launched a porn site a couple of years ago that featured the “fantasy” of American border patrol agents catching undocumented Mexican and Central American women attempting to cross the border, arresting them, handcuffing them, raping them, and then sending them back across the border. (To be clear, these are actors portraying these roles based on true events.)

While many may believe that it’s fair game for porn fantasies to portray anything, the actual reality of the series is too close for comfort. A Fusion investigation revealed that 80% of women and girls crossing into the U.S. from Mexico are actually raped during their journey. Porn fetishizes these real-life exploitative situations for the arousal of anyone who will click—and many people do click on immigrant abuse videos.

Related: Understanding The Disturbing Rise In Popularity Of Refugee-Themed Abuse Porn

Not only do porn companies capitalize on the vulnerabilities of immigrants, but refugees, too. Regardless of where anyone stands when it comes to the situation surrounding refugees globally, the abuse that many refugees endure isn’t something that should be further exploited or fetishized. That doesn’t stop the porn industry from making sure to capitalize on these exploitative situations and selling it as graphic fantasy.

Don’t believe us? One of the most popular porn sites doesn’t just have a few videos, but an entire section dedicated to “Syrian Refugee Porn,” which is not exactly surprising given that over 6.7 million Syrians have fled their homes since 2011.

Here are a few real storylines from some of the most popular porn sites:

  • “Muslim refugee beautiful pregnant mom f— by white guy…”
  • “Afghan refugee f—ing for money…”
  • “Poor Arab refugee girl picked up from the side of the road. Lured into the car for a ride. Exploited as an easy piece of f— meat…”

These storylines all fetishize real-life situations. For being an industry that claims to care about current issues affecting our society, dedicating entire sites and genres to immigrant and refugee abuse doesn’t seem very humanitarian.

Exploiting the real-life tragedies of those who can’t speak for themselves and reinforcing it as fantasy is in character for the porn industry. This isn’t unique, but that doesn’t make it any less concerning.

Related: Mia Khalifa’s Story Is Proof Of The Porn Industry’s Predatory Business Practices

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3. Those in the LGBTQ+ community

For an industry that is often culturally thought of as being allied with the LGBTQ+ community, the mainstream porn industry’s depictions of LGBTQ+ individuals and relationships often make it seem like they are less interested in accurate representation and more interested in profiting at the expense of LGBTQ+ people.

Regardless of any diversifying factors, people do not deserve to be abused, fetishized, tokenized, misrepresented, or exploited for “entertainment.” It shouldn’t be societally normalized for any industry or medium to misrepresent, exploit, or fetishize LGBTQ+ folks and their relationships—yet the porn industry certainly does, and unfortunately often gets away with it.

Porn producers, including many who are not members of the LGBTQ+ community, are creating content that they are promoting as being catered to an LGBTQ+ audience—though the content itself often misrepresents LGBTQ+ individuals and relationships, promotes derogatory terms, and is generally intended for a cisgender, heterosexual audience.

Related: How Porn Can Distort Consumers’ Understanding Of Healthy Sex

Let’s specifically consider “lesbian” porn. Although “lesbian” has remained one of the most searched-for terms on popular porn sites over the past few years, the majority of mainstream porn isn’t necessarily made for a lesbian audience at all, but for cisgender, heterosexual men. Not to mention mainstream porn gets a lot of things wrong about LGBTQ+ sex in general.

And for the “Bisexual Male” category, there are a few issues. Porn often sells the idea that bisexual individuals are not only hypersexual, they are serial cheaters, and always interested in a sexual encounter whenever and with whoever. What porn clearly misrepresents is that bisexual individuals, like everyone else, have individual libidos, desires, and longings for connection.

Ultimately, portraying a person’s sexual orientation as a fetish is a dehumanizing misrepresentation.

Related: How Porn Can Misrepresent And Fetishize LGBTQ+ Individuals And Relationships

No one deserves to be abused, fetishized, or tokenized—regardless of any diversifying factors. It’s unacceptable for the mainstream porn industry to exploit LGBTQ+ individuals and relationships for “entertainment.”

The reality is that porn that glamorizes the misrepresentation and mistreatment of real people, including those in the LGBTQ+ community, wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a demand for it. Every view, click, and download fuels the demand for the continued production of this content and reinforces attitudes and behaviors of degradation and objectification.

Supporting the industry further perpetuates misrepresentation and will continue to drive pornographers to create content that exploits and fantasizes marginalized people in hurtful ways.

4. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)

The porn industry didn’t invent racism, but it certainly profits from it.

The top-viewed category on Pornhub was “Japanese” in 2021, but not far behind was “Ebony.” It’s a very unfortunate fact that, while the porn industry did not invent racist stereotypes, it certainly depicts and profits from them, along with blatantly racist narratives.

The porn industry often fetishizes race, reducing people of color to sexual categories that often focus on damaging stereotypes.xHamster. (2018). xHamster trend report 2018. Retrieved from https://xhamster.com/blog/posts/745297COPY   According to researchers who performed a content analysis of more than 1,700 scenes from two of the world’s most popular porn sites—Pornhub and XVideos—videos featuring Black people disproportionately emphasize violence and aggression, perpetuate harmful racist stereotypes, and often depict Black people as “worse than objects.”Fritz, N., Malic, V., Paul, B., & Zhou, Y. (2021). Worse than objects: The depiction of black women and men and their sexual relationship in pornography. Gender Issues, 38(1), 100-120. doi:10.1007/s12147-020-09255-2COPY 

Related: Content On Popular Porn Sites Reportedly Normalize And Promote Racism And Racist Stereotypes

Dr. Carolyn West, an expert on domestic violence and cultural sensitivity, has taught courses on Human Sexuality for more than 20 years. Discussing the porn industry’s history of perpetuating racism against the Black community, she explains, “It doesn’t take long to stumble upon any number of racist titles that promote offensive and unwarranted racial stereotypes.” She continues, “The porn industry appears to get a free pass to promote horrifically racist and abusive content in the name of sexual entertainment to anyone with internet access, even children.”West, C. M. (2021). Why does the porn industry get away with racist portrayals of Black people? Fight the New Drug. Retrieved from https://fightthenewdrug.org/why-does-the-porn-industry-get-away-with-racist-portrayals-of-black-people/COPY 

Related: Why Does The Porn Industry Get Away With Racist Portrayals Of Black People?

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5. Children and teens

One of the most popular search terms on porn sites is problematic. “Teen porn” has ranked within the top ten genre searches on Pornhub in the last five years or so, making it pretty clear how much consumers look for “seemingly” underage performers even if the genre itself is marked as “Teen (18+).” The genre glorifies the fantasy of child porn and can introduce audiences to content that may not have otherwise looked for, and they may go on to search for younger and younger content.

But hold on a second. Child exploitation material is illegal in most countries. How do porn sites get away with underage “teen porn” if an actor has to be at least 18 years old? There are two answers to this. One is that, sometimes, those depicted in videos really are underage, and they’re likely victims of trafficking, abuse, or exploitation.

Another answer takes us back to 2002, when the porn industry lobbied to change the 1996 Child Pornography Prevention Act.

Related: Investigation Reveals Sharp Rise In Hidden Links To Child Porn On Adult Porn Sites

Dr. Gail Dines explained that the Free Speech Coalition (FSC)—who happens to be the porn industry’s chief lobby group—brought a case to the US Supreme Court to overturn the act, which prohibited any images that were or appeared to be of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The case was built around the phrase “appears to be” claiming “limitations on freedom of speech.” Long story short, the FSC won.

As a result of the victory, the porn industry was free to create computer-generated images of children in content, or alter the aesthetics of real performers who are of legal age, making them appear childlike. It is these images, Dines said, that have made “teen porn” not only legal, but an incredibly popular genre.

6. Those with intellectual or physical challenges/disabilities

One simple search on a porn site yields multiple categories of explicit content that capitalizes on exploiting intellectually and physically challenged/impaired individuals. Videos depicting the abuse of amputees, paraplegics, and those who are on the Autism spectrum have tens of thousands of hits, some of them with hundreds of thousands of hits.

These videos specifically play up the difficulties of the depicted individuals, making entertainment out of their physical challenges or making light of their intellectual difficulties in order to embarrass them. There is a distinct “freak show” vibe about these videos, marketing these individuals as “bizarre” or “weird.”

The porn industry will exploit anyone and everyone it possibly can.

Related: What Happened When This Porn-Consuming Teen Turned To Reddit For Real Sex Advice

Why this matters

Porn has the powerful ability to influence what people see as acceptable and normalizes whatever is shown. The porn industry seems to get a free pass to promote endlessly harmful and abusive content in the name of sexual entertainment to anyone with an internet signal, and it’s a problem.

Think about it: if the average film or TV show had the same kind of exploitive and extreme abuse content that you see on mainstream porn sites, you can bet that those studios would be shut down and condemned for promoting fetishization of LGBTQ+ individuals, or the abuse of refugees and intellectually challenged individuals. But this content was not created in a vacuum, unfortunately. This demand exists because of the escalating nature of porn, and because porn culture is all too present in our society.

Related: Sex Sells, But In Today’s Porn Culture, Objectification And Dehumanizing Violence Sell More

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Regardless of where someone stands on dividing political issues, we can all agree that people do not deserve to be abused, and that it is unacceptable for the most vulnerable individuals in society to be exploited for “entertainment.”

The truth is, porn glamorizing abuse and exploitation of marginalized individuals wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a demand for it. Every view, click, and download fuels the demand for the continued production of violent porn and reinforces attitudes and behaviors of degradation and objectification. Supporting the industry further perpetuates abuse and will continue to drive pornographers to create content that exploits and fantasizes abusing vulnerable and marginalized people.

We didn’t get here by accident. As a society, we are generally too accepting of the porn industry pushing content to the extreme, and inspiring others to do the same. But no more.

We can fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Refuse to click, spread the word that the porn industry is far from a source of unity, equality, and respect. Together, we can help stop the demand.