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3 Secrets About the Porn Industry the Average Person Doesn’t Know

Did you know porn is connected to sex trafficking, some porn sites host child exploitation content, and porn can harm consumers’ sexual health?

Most people’s first sexual encounter these days involves seeing porn unexpectedly for the first time before they’ve even kissed someone.

For the Playboy generation, they might have experienced it for the first time by finding a hidden magazine, stuffed under a mattress or hidden in a dresser drawer. For today’s Pornhub generation, too many stumbled across it while playing an online video game, scrolling through social media, or because of a Google Image search.

Or maybe a friend pulled out their phone during a sleepover, showing them images that they would never have believed existed until that moment.

There’s no doubt that today porn is more accessible, affordable, available, and anonymous than ever before. But did you know that research shows that porn can have harmful impacts on individuals and relationships, as well as reveals how exploitative the porn industry is?

Here are three things porn industry leaders likely wouldn’t want their customer base to know.

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1. Human sex trafficking regularly happens in the porn industry.

There are all kinds of connections between pornography, sexual exploitation, and sex trafficking. Often, they’re one and the same. But pornography and sex trafficking are connected in more ways than just one.

The fact of the matter is that sex trafficking in porn is a much bigger issue than most people realize.

According to cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, pornography was the 3rd-most common form of sex trafficking, after escort services and elicit massage businesses.Polaris. (2020). 2019 data report: The U.S. national human trafficking hotline. Retrieved from https://polarisproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Polaris-2019-US-National-Human-Trafficking-Hotline-Data-Report.pdfCOPY 

Related: Let’s Talk About Ethical Porn—Is It Really Exploitation-Free?

A trafficking victim in a porn video is not likely going to turn to the camera and announce they are being trafficked. In fact, even if the victim does register their distress, it’s still virtually impossible to distinguish, because rape and abuse-themed porn are so mainstream,Bridges, A. J., Wosnitzer, R., Scharrer, E., Sun, C., & Liberman, R. (2010). Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best-Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update. Violence Against Women, 16(10), 1065–1085. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801210382866COPY  and producers can edit content any way they choose.

Ultimately, modern sex trafficking shares a variety of symbiotic connections to pornography:

  • Sex trafficking victims can be forced, tricked, or coerced into pornography production
  • Porn performers can be trafficked into acts they didn’t consent to
  • Porn can be used to groom trafficking victims and “train” them on what is expected of them
  • Porn can normalize sexual violence and objectification to the extent that in some cases, the desensitization of consumers can manifest in more willingness to buy sex, thus increasing the demand for sexual exploitation and sex trafficking

To learn more about porn and sex trafficking, read this research-packed article.

Related: If The Porn Industry Was Ethical, Would That Make Porn Healthy To Watch?

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2. Many mainstream sites have hosted nonconsensual content, including child exploitation.

Most porn sites do not verify the age or consent of individuals who appear in the images and/or videos posted to their sites, many times freely uploaded by site users.

Not only is there virtually no standard system in place to confirm that all participants gave their consent and are of legal age, but even on the most popular porn sites, guaranteeing age and consent are not necessarily prerequisites to becoming a “verified” user. Even on sites who do verify users and allow those users to upload content, many often only require the account owner to verify their identity, and don’t require age or consent verification for the individuals depicted in the content.

That means that virtually anyone can post anything—including image-based abuse. In fact, there have been many documented instances of verified accounts posting nonconsensual content, child sexual abuse material, or content made of sex trafficking victims.Pornhub sued by 40 Girls Do Porn sex trafficking victim. (2020). BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-55333403COPY ParlVu. (2021). Meeting no. 20 ETHI— Standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics. Retrieved from https://parlvu.parl.gc.ca/Harmony/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20210219/-1/34789?Language=English&Stream=VideoCOPY 

There have been many public reports of underage content on popular porn sites, though there are certainly many more that haven’t been publicly reported.

Related: Would “Exploitation-Free” Porn Be Harm-Free For Consumers?

One 15-year-old victim, for example, had been missing for a year before she was spotted in a number of videos on a popular porn site—and yes, the account that posted the videos had been “verified”.McDonald, S. (2019). Florida man arrested after 58 porn videos, photos link him to missing underage teen girl. Newsweek. Retrieved from https://www.newsweek.com/florida-man-arrested-after-58-porn-videos-photos-link-him-missing-underage-teen-girl-1467413COPY Cheong, I. M. (2020). Pornhub verified child sex trafficking. Human Events. Retrieved from https://humanevents.com/2020/03/01/pornhub-verified-child-sex-trafficking/COPY 

In another incident, a young woman had to contact the police in order to get videos of her as a 16-year-old removed from a verified account on a popular porn site.Gallien, S. (2020). Tuscaloosa man charged for producing porn with a minor, uploading it to PornHub. ABC News. Retrieved from https://abc3340.com/news/local/pornhub-account-tied-to-tuscaloosa-mans-arrest-for-producing-porn-with-a-minorCOPY 

If you’re not convinced content on mainstream sites isn’t all consensual, read this viral New York Times story, this BBC report, this Jezebel.com story, another story from the New York Times, this story on Daily Beast, this story on Complex.com, this Rolling Stone story, this Bustle.com story, this story on CNN, this News.com.au story, this Buzzfeed News profile, or this UK Independent story for further evidence that the mainstream porn industry features nonconsensual content and videos of trafficked individuals.

Unfortunately there are many, many more stories like these. This is happening on virtually every mainstream porn site.

Related: How Porn Can Fuel Sex Trafficking

Of course, we are not claiming that all porn is nonconsensual or abusive, rather, we’re raising awareness on the unfortunate reality of the porn industry—that there is often no way to tell whether the porn a consumer views is completely consensual or if it was produced with coercion,  exploitation, or abuse.

To learn more about how porn profits from nonconsensual content, read this research-packed article.

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3. Porn can harm consumers’ sexual health.

When someone regularly consumes porn, they can become accustomed to being aroused by the imagery and endless novelty found in porn.Bőthe, B., Tóth-Király, I., Griffiths, M. D., Potenza, M. N., Orosz, G., & Demetrovics, Z. (2021). Are sexual functioning problems associated with frequent pornography use and/or problematic pornography use? Results from a large community survey including males and females. Addictive Behaviors, 112, 106603. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106603COPY Hilton D. L., Jr (2013). Pornography addiction - a supranormal stimulus considered in the context of neuroplasticity. Socioaffective neuroscience & psychology, 3, 20767. https://doi.org/10.3402/snp.v3i0.20767COPY  Pretty soon, natural turn-ons and real relationships aren’t enough, and many porn consumers find they can’t get aroused by anything but porn.Park, B. Y., Wilson, G., Berger, J., Christman, M., Reina, B., Bishop, F., Klam, W. P., & Doan, A. P. (2016). Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports. Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 6(3), 17. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs6030017COPY Voon, V., et al. (2014). Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviors, PLoS ONE, 9(7), e102419. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102419COPY 

Related: The 3 Common Misconceptions About Porn And Sexual Health

Ironically, despite porn’s promise of improving consumers’ sex lives, there is growing evidence that porn consumption is linked to sexual dysfunction.

Research indicates that compulsive pornography consumption is directly related to erectile dysfunction,Park, B. Y., Wilson, G., Berger, J., Christman, M., Reina, B., Bishop, F., Klam, W. P., & Doan, A. P. (2016). Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports. Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 6(3), 17. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs6030017COPY  sexual dysfunction for both men and women,Bőthe, B., Tóth-Király, I., Griffiths, M. D., Potenza, M. N., Orosz, G., & Demetrovics, Z. (2021). Are sexual functioning problems associated with frequent pornography use and/or problematic pornography use? Results from a large community survey including males and females. Addictive Behaviors, 112, 106603. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106603COPY  problems with arousal and sexual performance,Sun, C., Bridges, A., Johnson, J. A., & Ezzell, M. B. (2016). Pornography and the Male Sexual Script: An Analysis of Consumption and Sexual Relations. Archives of sexual behavior, 45(4), 983–994. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-014-0391-2COPY  difficulty reaching orgasm,Bőthe, B., Tóth-Király, I., Griffiths, M. D., Potenza, M. N., Orosz, G., & Demetrovics, Z. (2021). Are sexual functioning problems associated with frequent pornography use and/or problematic pornography use? Results from a large community survey including males and females. Addictive Behaviors, 112, 106603. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106603COPY  and decreased sexual satisfaction.Szymanski, D. M., & Stewart-Richardson, D. N. (2014). Psychological, Relational, and Sexual Correlates of Pornography Use on Young Adult Heterosexual Men in Romantic Relationships. The Journal of Men’s Studies, 22(1), 64–82. https://doi.org/10.3149/jms.2201.64COPY 

To learn more about porn’s impact on consumers’ sexual health, read this research-packed article.

Related: 10 Things Porn Gets Completely Wrong About Real Sex

Porn is trash, you deserve better

The research is clear—porn is not a harmless pastime, especially when it’s exploitative and harmful to consumers’ health and understanding of sex.

Most people don’t know these three facts about the porn industry, but now that you know, you can make an informed choice about porn. Consider before consuming.

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