Expand

The Justice Side of Porn

How porn is far more than a moral issue.

The moral arguments against pornography are well-known. However, even apart from questions of fidelity and objectification, there is an inescapable problem with porn.

The truth is, porn performers might have far more in common with victims of human trafficking than you might think. A growing body of evidence suggests that pornography fuels demand for prostitutes—and therefore, human sex trafficking victims, who often end up ensnared in both trades.

The porn industry is tightly intertwined with the “industry” of sex trafficking.

The porn industry is tightly intertwined with the “industry” of sex trafficking, as the Johns Hopkins’ Protection Project has recently investigated. Their research has identified several links:

1) Forced participation in film production

If force, fraud or coercion is used to compel performers to perform for the camera, this can constitute sex trafficking.

Multiple cases document performers promised legitimate jobs, say as models, only to find themselves in front of a camera and told to perform sexual acts. This is known as fraud. And if they are not given the choice to walk away, this becomes sex trafficking. Even if initial consent was given, a performer is within her rights to change her mind. Sadly, in such cases, threats of contract violation—plausible coercion—cause the victim to give in (possible coercion). Many girls have given testimonies of becoming scared once on the film set, but their wishes to stop were ignored and followed with brutal treatment. That is force, and that is sex trafficking.

Too often, victims of human trafficking do not self-identify because they don’t know the law. So, here it is.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) defines sex trafficking as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining 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.”

The term, “human trafficking” can confuse people into thinking movement or crossing borders is necessary, when it’s not. Human trafficking is about exploitation. It can happen next door.

Too often, victims of human trafficking do not self-identify because they don’t know the law.

2) Forced participation in prostitution

Traffickers may exploit their victims through prostitution as well as on film. There have been cases where underage girls, under a pimp’s control, were forced to provide commercial sex in addition to performing in pornographic videos filmed by the pimp.

According to Laura Lederer of the Protection Project and Global Centurion, an anti-trafficking organization, over 25 percent of child sex traffickers take pictures or video recordings. Regarding child pornography, there is no gray area: “Any child under the age of 18 is considered a victim of human trafficking if they are induced to commit a commercial sex act. This can include prostitution or pornography. No child can ‘consent’ or choose to be involved in any form of commercial sex.”

Runaways and children kicked out of their homes are some of the most vulnerable to sex trafficking. The U.S. Justice Department's National Incidence Study of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrown-away Children estimates that as many as 1.7 million children run away from home each year. Within 48 hours of hitting the streets, it is estimated that 1/3 of these children are lured or recruited into prostitution and pornography.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the annual number of images and videos of suspected child pornography reached over 17 million in 2011.

3) Forced exposure to porn

Pimps and traffickers sometimes use pornographic films as grooming tools, forcing new victims to watch repeatedly, so they become hardened and learn what is expected of them. This is a corruption of the teaching technique of "translating image to action.”

Additionally, a significant percentage of prostitution survivors say they encountered buyers who used pornography to show them what was wanted. Since sex trafficking victims have no ability to choose, they are particularly susceptible to the more deviant buyers.

Sustained exposure to pornography has long-standing effects, and can create a skewed sense of “normalcy.” Mary Anne Layden of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania, states, "The large body of research on pornography reveals that it functions as ... a permission-giver for, and a trigger of many negative behaviors and attitudes that can severely damage not only the users but many others."

The path to porn addiction described by clinical psychologist Dr. Victor Cline shows how easily viewers can find themselves in a place they never thought possible:

  • Addiction: Porn consumers get hooked and often keep coming back for more.
  • Escalation: Increased levels of exposure are often needed to stimulate to the same degree.
  • Desensitization: Over time and exposure, the witnessing of certain acts can lose its shock factor and becomes more “normal.”
  • Acting out: Viewers may have an increased tendency to act out behaviors seen in pornography

Evidence suggests frequent viewers tend to be more frequent purchasers of prostitutes—an illegal behavior that often involves victims of sex trafficking. Pornography can be a vehicle by which people become objects to view and to use, and a catalyst to fuel demand. And you can bet, traffickers will answer it.

What can you do?

  • Alter Your Perspective. Don’t automatically assume people in the sex industry are there by choice.
  • Learn the signs of human trafficking.
  • If you think you have witnessed trafficking, call the National Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or text INFO or HELP to BeFree.
  • And finally, don’t support industries that fuel demand in the sex trade.

27 Comments

Michael Moore

2

Michael Moore commented…

I spent ten years working with boys and girls 12-18 years old who were runaways, sexually brutalized, neglected to the point of near starvation, severe mental problems and the list goes on. I have no doubt that some of these "children" had been trafficked or since then been sucked up into sex trades. The most common factor that links all of these kids together is that they are messed up for the rest of their lives. Everyday they will either remember the trauma they went through or continue in the "life" and die way earlier from some sort of related issue due to the mental and physical pain they had to endure. Yes it is a sad state of affairs that media does not do more to bring this problem to the forefront in our society as supposedly civilized people. Seems to be another topic that tends to get swept under the rug.

Rocky

13

Rocky commented…

On the contrary, the moral arguments against porn are obfuscated by false contentions that: porn leads to use of prostitutes > leads to demand for more prostitutes > leads to trafficking of women. Simple logic is enough to disprove this. The majority of men and women who read or look at porn will never visit a prostitute. Only about 1% of U.S. men per year visit a prostitute (15% do it at least once per lifetime) whereas nearly all men and a lot of women look at porn at least occasionally. Porn usage by men and women is an expression of interest in sex and will far more likely result in either masturbation or standard intercourse, not prostitution and certainly not child prostitution. The demand for prostitutes, therefore, as well as the "demand" for porn actresses who number in the thousands, is not so high (or tied to porn use) that it necessitates the oppressive, illegal treatment of others. Most porn is shot under voluntary legal contracts. This article's thesis is part of the same mythology as the "Super Bowl increases sex trafficking" urban legend and unfortunately detracts from helping those who are genuinely in need... by attacking the wrong thing.

So, point number one is false simply because porn that is shot commercially is done by signed contract. Plenty of amateur couples voluntarily post their sex tapes as well. Points number two and three are irrelevant to the thesis, addressing the abuse of underage trafficked persons rather than proving that porn actors are trafficked or victimized.

We can agree that addiction to porn is a bad thing and that yes, sometimes it leads people into offensive and illegal territory, but I've read that those most likely to get addicted are sensitive, introverted religious types not your average johns.

Debra Thompson

1

Debra Thompson replied to Rocky's comment

Rocky, have you ever heard of Shelley Lubben or The Pink Cross? The organization focuses on rescuing girls out of the porn industry who are threatened if they try to leave. They deal with these kind of things all the time, and often porn and sex trafficking are interlinked.
It doesn't matter if a person it addicted to porn or not, only a slight exposure can mess with you for a life time. -An Extroverted Christian Woman who has suffered from the effects of porn

Rocky

13

Rocky replied to Debra Thompson's comment

I'm aware of Lubben's work. She means well *I guess*, but I believe she's a huckster and a fraud. Actors aren't "threatened if they try to leave". I accept that you have been negatively affected by your exposure to erotic content. Now, if we can only take those parts out of the Bible that talk about men with mule sized penises ejaculating volumes of semen and about the men tweaking and fondling the nipples of two young sisters (ezekiel 23:20,3).. we can make the world safe for everyone.

Fred C. Rochester

2

Fred C. Rochester replied to Jermey Matthews's comment

Regardless of the stats, when a man watches porn, he is significantly contributing to a worldwide problem. 15.99 buys the drugs and alcohol used by women to help them cope through the sexual abuse. It helps buy the gas to transport kidnapped children to these production sites. It helps buy the hotel rooms all across the nation where a child is raped.

I'm quite sure one day, you might buy a porn movie and see your own daughter getting gang raped.

That's what The Lord told me. "You could be watching your daughter." Right in the middle of porn and gratifying myself.

So when you don't think that it's not happening all that much, let's all think again and knock off justification of this sin.

Michael Moore

2

Michael Moore commented…

Rocky you totally missed my point about youth being abused and what that does to them the rest of their lives. Pointing fingers at one group or another does nothing to educate people on the real basis for the injunctions impressed on a young persons mental state that they will live with forever until they pass on.

Rocky

13

Rocky replied to Michael Moore's comment

My comments were in reply to the blog only.

Jenn

1

Jenn replied to Rocky's comment

Rocky - first of all, regarding your stats...1% of men are willing to admit that...which is meaningless since I suspect the vast majority of those who buy sex do not desire to openly admit it.

Second, pretending that a signed contract makes something legit, when we are talking about porn, is ridiculous. Please go read some of the awful stories of women who have come out of the porn industry to get a look at what it is really like, signed contract or not.

Lastly, this article does not even address the issue of men going overseas to buy sex where Americans make up a significant percentage of those in developing countries there to buy sex with children. They didn't wake up one day and decide that was a good idea. As the article details, porn can and often is a gateway to increasingly deviant behaviors.

Rocky

13

Rocky commented…

Given the legalities in our country, it may be true that men are reluctant to admit to whatever, but if you want to challenge my verifiable stats, you need to present specifics and not call what I said "meaningless". I found this:

Because of the danger of underreporting by men reluctant to admit their prostitution-related activities, other researchers have used arrest data to extrapolate out the number of men frequenting prostitutes. Those studies estimate that about 2 percent to 4 percent of American men have visited a prostitute in the last year, said Devon Brewer of the Seattle-based consulting firm Interdisciplinary Scientific Research, who has conducted these studies.

My point remains that there is no real causal connection between porn use and soliciting prostitutes.

I agree that there are some people who have been abused or taken advantage of; happens everywhere in life. You either leave that situation or deal with it otherwise. Many others testify that they like their work. But, that's not the point of the discussion, which is that "porn causes sex trafficking" is a false statement used to argue that porn production and usage is therefore immoral. My point is that sex trafficking is a horrible thing (such as occurs in Thailand) and we ought not detract from serious efforts to combat that by crusading against the production of erotic materials. If we want to make a moral argument against these things, make it on the merits/demerits of the materials themselves, don't use the abusive treatment of women and children as an ineffective bludgeon.

Kim

1

Kim commented…

Rocky, do you really think Shelley Lubben is a fraud and huckster? Do you really not think that there are women out there who have been through horrible things from the industry? Please show some compassion for those who have and for any effort which has a goal of addressing any injustice or pain. There are reliable statistics that have shown that the number of registered sexual offenders has increased, that sexual crimes have increased in the last few years, that there was a rise in sexual assaults in the military, news on porn use in the military and navy, the news stories about the boys who raped girls admitting that it copied what they saw in porn, and even the stories of the young girls who pimped out their own friends for money. Even girls are beginning to see women and other girls as sex objects, and I think it's because of the message society is reinforcing about women. All things are related. If you look at any social justice issue, it is many-faceted. An overall view of women as objects, as portrayed in porn, is the same basic objectifying view that traffickers and pimps are working from. Women are things. I have known two strippers who told me horrible stories and felt so used and just like a thing, but they needed the money for their kids. They said that they were treated like things all the time and it made them sick. So yes, you can try to separate out trafficking and porn use, but they both stem from the same basic concept, that the woman being seen/trafficked is something to use to get me off. Sounds like a basic justice issue to me.

Please log in or register to comment

Log In