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Is It Healthier or More Ethical to Watch Porn if You Pay For It?

Even if you aren’t paying to watch porn, porn companies are making money off of your visit to their site. But what about paying for porn through sites like OnlyFans? Is that a more ethical or healthy choice? Let’s discuss.

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For decades in the 20th Century, the porn industry made its money from advertisements in published pornographic magazines, and then from the sale of porn films on VHS tapes. Then, with the rise of internet porn, paid subscription sites became the norm, which required consumers to pay to view the content posted on these websites.

Now, the business model of the porn industry has changed again with the times.

Pay-to-watch porn sites aren’t completely gone, but as of 2007, the surge in free “tube” sites has completely changed the game by giving consumers access to virtually unlimited amounts of hardcore content, seemingly completely free of charge.

Related: How Does The Porn Industry Actually Make Money Today?

Now that the dangers, ethical issues, and questionable content issues are more widely known in our culture, porn advocates are calling on porn consumers to pay for their porn if they want to continue to enjoy it healthfully and ethically.

But even subscription sites like OnlyFans or other “ethical” porn sites have their own issues.

On the flip-side of that, some porn consumers may consider free sites to be less harmful because they aren’t technically giving money directly to the exploitive porn industry—or else they just don’t want to actually pay for what they watch (or they’re too young to have a credit card). But we’ll talk about how free porn sites very much still profit from porn consumers later on.

As the facts stand, both are not “perfect” nor exploitation-free options.

Related: 50 “GirlsDoPorn” Sex Trafficking Survivors Sue Pornhub’s Parent Company For Profiting From Their Exploitation

Whether a consumer is paying for their porn or not, porn sites fuel the demand for a harmful product that contributes to the sexual exploitation and abuse of real people and harms relationships and individuals around the world on both sides of the screen. After all, paid for or not, porn has been shown to be harmful to its consumers.

Let’s talk about the issues with paid vs. free porn.

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Problems with pay-to-view porn

Even subscription porn sites have been shown to fuel and perpetuate exploitation and abuse.

Consider that the viral subscription-only content platform OnlyFans, which hosts a lot of content from porn creators and performer profiles, is largely being hailed as a solution to some of the porn industry’s exploitation issues. But what many consumers don’t know is it has its own issues.

Related: Is Making An OnlyFans Worth It?

Not only are content creators subject to sexual harassment from subscribers, but they can also be coerced to create content that push their boundaries to retain subscribers, and the issue of subscribers leaking their content (link trigger warning) protected by a pay wall is essentially inevitable. Aside from these issues, OnlyFans has been found to be reportedly used by traffickers and it is confirmed the site hosts countless profiles of underage content creators (i.e. “child pornography” and child exploitation images).

And aside from non-mainstream sites like OnlyFans, consider that even popular subscription sites that are more mainstream are not necessarily exempt from performer exploitation. Consider that one company largely owns and operates what most people consider to be the mainstream porn industry, and that company has over 5 lawsuits filed against it backed by almost 100 sexual abuse, child exploitation, and trafficking survivors.

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We are not claiming that all porn made on sites like OnlyFans or other mainstream subscription sites is nonconsensual, but rather, raising awareness that there is often no way to tell if the porn a consumer views is completely consensual or produced with coercion.

Related: Why Fixing the Porn Industry’s Issues Won’t Fix Porn

Just read this Jezebel.com storythis story on Daily Beastthis story on Complex.comthis Rolling Stone storythis Daily Beast storythis Bustle.com storythis story on CNNthis NY Post storythis Gizmodo.com storyand this UK Independent story for further proof that the mainstream porn industry (even on sites that require subscriptions to access) features nonconsensual videos, and videos of trafficked individuals.

And those who do choose to perform in porn and are featured on paid sites often speak out later about the realities of working in the industry, like Jessica. Check out this former porn performer’s story of abuse and exploitation:

You may be wondering, how does any of this relate to consumers who are paying to watch their porn?

When a consumer pays to watch porn, that money directly fuels the industry that capitalizes on and perpetuates abuse, exploitation, and trafficking around the world. And supporting pay-to-view porn sites or getting a subscription/monthly membership to any porn site, including OnlyFans, means directly financially supporting an industry that often ignores the abusive experiences of performers like Jessica, blacklists performers who speak out on abusive practices, or is complicit in the exploitation of children.

Related: Not All Porn Is Consensual. Don’t Believe It? Just Ask These Performers.

If we want to decrease the demand for porn and sexual exploitation, we need to bankrupt the system—halt the cash flow and recognize the harm this industry does to people on both sides of the screen.

We fight to raise awareness on the impact of paying for porn sites because financially supporting this industry means financially contributing to sexual exploitation, as well as financially contributing to the harms of individual consumers and relationships.

But choosing to watch porn for free and sidestepping financial support doesn’t automatically solve these issues.

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Problem with watching porn on free sites

The porn industry doesn’t only profit from paid porn sites, porn companies also cash in on advertising revenue from free porn websites that get billions of worldwide visitors a year.

These free sites are called “tube sites” because they mimic the layout of free video-sharing sites like YouTube. These tube sites often pirate the content from paid sites, and offer it to consumers for free. These sites are also home to amateur content from more unregulated, unsafe productions. Many consumers think because the content is free, they don’t financially contribute to any exploitation in the industry.

Related: How Real Videos Of Sex Trafficking And Exploitation End Up On Mainstream Porn Sites

Sadly, that’s not the case.

Popular former porn performer, Chris Zeischegg, shared his personal experiences with the impact of these tube sites. In an interview with Forbes, he explained, “I saw the crews shrink, the number of shoots drop, and work dry up for a lot of people. It had plenty to do with the rise of piracy and with free tube sites. The business model completely changed and aside from one company—MindGeek—porn has yet to really catch up.”

As we mentioned earlier, MindGeek owns and operates much of what people understand to be the mainstream porn industry, and much of their sites are free to access. Even still, about 50% of the site’s alleged multi-billion dollar annual revenue is from advertising.

Even if you aren’t paying to watch porn, porn companies are tracking your every move, selling your data to advertisers, and making money off of your visit to their site.

The reality is, as public demand has moved away from pay-to-view sites, decreased profit margins also mean the studios can’t afford to take care of their performers as well. That results in poor medical care, more forced or coercive practices, and more questionable business practices in general.

Related: This Anonymous Performer’s Reddit Post About The Realities Of The Porn Industry Is Chilling

Major pay cuts impact the performers the most heavily, often causing them to resort to more extreme, violent sex scenes that pay more. These scenes have higher cash value but more serious impacts on the physical and mental health of performers. To get through the pain of these shoots, many men and women in porn resort to drinking, pain-killers, and/or hard drugs.

We fight to raise awareness on the harms of free porn because clicking on tube sites is clicking on the exploitation of individuals. Increased views and web traffic equal an increased demand for sexual abuse and exploitation.

Still need more concrete proof? Just read this case about dozens of women who were tricked and coerced to perform in porn on one porn site, and these videos ended up on mainstream porn sites.

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It’s not worth it

Whether a consumer is paying for their porn or watching for free, their clicks and views contribute to the growing demand for sexual exploitation, and therefore, their clicks and views also contribute to the demand for sex trafficking.

Not to mention that porn doesn’t only harm the people involved in its production—it can have serious consequences for consumers as well.

Related: Do Some Videos On Mainstream Porn Sites Actually Show Sex Trafficking?

It can damage a consumer’s (or their partner’s) self-esteem, and change their view of what healthy relationships look like. When someone spends their time looking at airbrushed and edited fantasies, reality doesn’t measure up (even if they’re an adult consumer who understands what they’re viewing is all fantasy entertainment). This can promote unrealistic expectations of sexual encounters and healthy relationships.

These harmful effects come from any kind of porn, both paid and free.

Related: 10 Ex-Porn Performers Reveal The Brutal Truth Behind Their Most Popular Scenes

Whether your bank account is impacted or not, the porn industry still impacts the lives of the individuals who are exploited in the process of producing that content. Keep in mind that nonconsensual content, even on paid sites, is not uncommon, and there is a lot of content out there featuring individuals who don’t even know they’ve been exploited.

Regardless of where a consumer’s porn comes from, it will have the same effects on their brain and emotional health. Paid or free, porn has proven harms. Refuse to click and join this global movement for love.

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