There are people out there who say they love their job, performing in porn. It’s true—they exist.

However, even if porn could be exploitation-free and every performer was there 100% willingly, this argument still wouldn’t cancel out the research proving porn’s harmful effects nor the fundamental issues with what mainstream porn glorifies.

Sometimes, human trafficking can happen to willing performers

It’s important to know that even those exploited in porn can appear to enjoy it, and even tell consumers that they absolutely love their job. Take it from former performer, Jessica, who faked a smile and a giggle every time she was approached by a fan.

Many are forced to put on a happy face than reveal what really can happen behind the scenes after leaving the industry.

Related: Is “Exploitation-Free” Porn Possible, And Would It Be Harm-Free For Consumers?

On the other hand, the belief that because someone entered the industry willingly means they can never be a victim of exploitation is also a dangerous misconception. Even someone who voluntarily entered the porn industry can be exploited and abused.

It might sound crazy, but even performers who started in porn willingly can be sex trafficked.

By definition, “sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.”

In other words, all it takes is force, fraud, or coercion in a commercial sex situation and boom—you’ve got a trafficking situation. See the difference between the actual definition of sex trafficking and only what the movie Taken portrays?

Related: This Porn Performer’s Online Confession About The Industry Is Going Viral (Must Read)

Although trafficking can look like what happens in action-packed Hollywood films, a trafficking victim doesn’t have to be someone who was kidnapped or smuggled into a trafficking ring. It could simply be a porn performer who agreed to a scene and was later forced or coerced into doing a more extreme act in order to be paid.

Force, fraud, and coercion can happen at any time and in any scene or situation—whether someone has been in the porn industry for 5 minutes or 5 years. And it happens more often than you might think, willing performer or not.

Related: Porn Director Reveals Raw Reality Of What It’s Like To Produce Hardcore Content

Those who say they love their job in porn can endure some form of coercion and dismiss it as something that “just happens” in the industry, not realizing the crimes that have been committed against them. They may even negate the fact that by definition, sex trafficking situations are a normalized reality for many in their industry.

Questionable porn themes, even with consenting performers

Let’s consider an alternate—and impossible—reality where 100% of porn is completely consensual: Everyone in porn is over the age of 18. No one in porn is exploited or pushed past their limits. Everyone is there by the freedom of choice rather than the need to survive.

Let’s pretend for a minute that children aren’t exposed to porn every day, there’s no addictive potential to porn, and it has no impact on the brain or relationships.

Of course, all of those things are actually the harsh realities of porn. But putting all of that aside, let’s just look at the common themes in mainstream porn.

Related: 5 Marginalized Groups Of People Porn Has No Problem Fetishizing

How many consenting performers have acted as an underage girl or boy in a porn scene? How many have participated in a scene that fantasizes incest between siblings, step-siblings, parents or step-parents? How many have been in a scene where gangbangs, abuse, rape, or force was fantasized? How many performers have been in scenes where sexual manipulation was involved, or even with racially stereotyped and gender stereotyped themes or roles?

It’s likely that most—if not all—mainstream and amateur performers have engaged with this kind of content, given that those are some of the most searched for themes on major porn sites year after year.

Related: The Most Viewed Porn Categories Of 2017 Are Pretty Messed Up

What can glamorizing and eroticizing these behaviors do to society? Think of how one major porn site alone gets about 80 million daily average visits. Would it be safe to say that society could accept the idea that sex with a family member could be normal? That young teens are easily manipulated sex objects? That there are little to no consequences for forced sex or rape? That racist or sexist sexual fantasies are acceptable?

While words can more easily be interpreted as opinion, the brain is significantly more likely to process images as fact. And because porn affects sexual tastes, it can influence what people fantasize about, and even have a potential impact on behavior in real life.

Does performer consent negate porn’s negative effects?

We’re all about healthy sexuality, and the porn industry claims to be, too. Here’s the kicker, though: consenting performers or not, porn actually reinforces themes that are damaging to real relationships, like cheating, unequal gender dynamics, and degrading sex acts—things that have the opposite impact of promoting healthy sex in committed relationships.

Related: What Actually Would Happen If These 10 Porn Scenarios Happened In Real Life

Porn actually fuels sexual dysfunction in a lot of young people, too. It puts in place unattainable expectations for how partners should look, act, desire, and sexually perform. It cultivates comparison and sells exaggerated fantasies that consumers can’t replicate in their relationships. It can influence some individuals to prefer the unattainable and two-dimensional fantasy of porn rather than the work of a real partner connected with sexual gratification.

Pornographers want consumers to be aroused by someone else’s scripted, fake experience and keep them coming back for more, whatever it takes—extreme acts, taboo topics, or unattainable fantasies.

So even if some porn performers say they’re having the time of their lives, does their willingness justify producing a toxic product that takes such a toll on the sexual wellness of its consumers? Does performer consent completely negate the untold amount of negative impacts their product has in our sex-obsessed society?

Let’s relate this back to another issue you’ve probably thought about.

Not every performer, but some of them

Since 1964, tobacco has killed more than 20 million Americans. That’s 15 times the number of Americans who have lost their lives in all the wars combined that the U.S. has participated in.

Smoking is one of the most preventable causes of death in the U.S. today. It accounts for 30% of all cancer deaths and 87% of lung cancer deaths. According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide.

In a 50-year landmark study, physicians in England found that about half of all smokers will die from a smoking-related disease—many before or around the age of 50.

Related: The Surprising Similarities Between Smokers And Porn Performers  

So if research clearly shows that smoking is harmful, the tobacco industry has probably fessed up and made attempts to right their wrongs, haven’t they?

Sadly, no.

Tobacco industry leaders continue contesting the oceans of research and scientific consensus proving its harm. Check out what one judge wrote after listening to 84 witnesses and perusing tens of thousands of exhibits in discovery tobacco companies’ elaborate strategies to deny the harmful effects of smoking:

“In short, [the companies] have marketed and sold their lethal product with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted,” Kessler wrote in United States of America v. Philip Morris USA.

Sound familiar? Seemingly trustworthy industry insiders reporting that something is acceptable and that there are very little if any risks involved—even when science proves the opposite?

The vast world of internet porn is completely new in the scope of human history. There’s a lot of research already about porn’s harmful effects, and it will only increase as the years continue. Those who profess that porn is harmless, including some porn performers, will eventually see the facts speak for themselves.

While not every porn performer is exploited, many are. While it might not happen to everyone, it happens to someone. And even if none were, the pornographic product produced glorifies unacceptable behavior and issues, and actively harms relationships and consumers. And that’s enough for us to raise our voices.

After all, we believe everyone deserves to know the real risks of the products they consume, whether occasionally or casually.

The lasting negative influences of porn

We want to make something clear: we’re in no way pointing fingers at porn performers who vocally claim to love their jobs. We’re anti-shame on all fronts, no matter who it’s directed toward.

Related: Why Shaming And Victim-Blaming Porn Performers Adds To Their Mistreatment

What we are saying is that the argument of, “Porn is produced with performers’ consent, so what’s the problem it?” turns a blind eye to so many harmful ramifications of this toxic product in our society that cannot be ignored.

The negative effects of porn don’t simply disappear with the claim that even some porn performers love what they do.

People who learn about sex from porn suffer, and society suffers, too. We’re pro-sex and pro-healthy relationships, which is precisely why we’re anti-porn.

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In an imaginary world where all porn performers never face exploitation, and all porn is produced consensually, porn would still be toxic for society. SHARE this post and spread the word that consent doesn’t negate negative effects.

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