Ethical Porn: What Is It and Does It Really Exist?

Table of Contents

You might be conscious about your shopping, recycling, and eating habits. But are you consciously and ethically consuming porn?

Not all porn is created equal. Mainstream porn sites such as Pornhub generate over 130 million visitors per day. Yet, they can be problematic for various reasons.

Have you ever started to watch mainstream porn and slowly get turned off? Or feel uncomfortable afterward? Have you browsed for ages for real sex? Or felt uncomfortable with the idea of what your partner is watching?

You are not alone. The good news is there's an alternative sex-positive solution. A sex-positive claimed to aid great masturbation sessions: ethical porn.

Learning how to discern if your porn consumption is ethical can make consuming porn something that can have a healthy influence in your solo sex life and partnered sex life. It can reduce shame, fear, and keep porn in its rightly role – erotic imagery that stimulates and excites!

What Is Ethical Porn?

Front facing young blond women posing wearing black lingerie

Imagine being able to watch porn that makes you feel good and the actor involved!

Ethical porn aims to empower everyone involved, including viewers and porn sex workers. It ensures fair wages and safe working conditions for actors. The term is sometimes interchanged with fair trade porn and feminist porn too.

Ethical adult films make high-quality porn with different body types and pleasure. It moves away from simply focusing on heteronormative satisfaction.

Contrary to some expectations, ethical porn is not 'vanilla' porn (even though that is great too). There are also kinks such as anal play, BDSM, and sex toys. The key to consider in ethical porn is even though some of the fantasies depicted in the skits may involve pushing boundaries or fantasies around pain or exploitation, every actor in the scene is treated with respect, has autonomy and has given consent, and the consumer can rest assured that no one is actually being compromised.

There is often an assumption that all actors in mainstream porn are there volitionally, though that is not always the case. The word “teen” is frequently found in the top 10 search terms for mainstream pornography, making the demand high. While the fantasy to push the boundaries around age and consent may be arousing, because often fantasies are metaphors for some aspect of life we cannot (or would not) access in reality.

However, roughly 29% of images analyzed by watch group Internet Watch Foundation in 2019 revealed minor children, many of whom were trafficked but whose videos were contrived to appear self-generated. To be an ethical consumer of porn is to ensure that you are not participating inadvertently in someone else’s exploitation, even if that is the fantasy.

What Is Feminist Porn?

Technically, any type of porn that equally empowers is feminist. Feminist porn tends to focus on turning the tables away from cisgender male dominance and the centering of pleasure around straight cisgender men. This means realistic sex and a build-up to climax for everyone involved.

After all, 97% of violence in mainstream porn is aimed at cis gender women. This is not only highly triggering for victims of sexual violence but can be unhealthy if it is the exclusive source of sexual material. Most mainstream porn is not sex-positive for everyone, as it creates an perpetuates unrealistic expectations about sexual function and pleasure.

Feminist porn seeks to balance the scales, and focuses on parity of pleasure, realistic narratives about pleasure potential and representation of many different groups of people. It sends a clear message that straight cisgender men are not the not the only people whose pleasure matters, and that is an ethical (and erotic) message.

Do Feminist Erotica and Ethical Erotica Differ?

The terms overlap, and whether or not there is overlap will depend on the site you visit. Ethical erotica can strip away the dominant heteronormative narrative for all. But its main focus is on fair working conditions.

Ethical porn represents everyone. So it can be more accessible for people who identify as transgender, queer, and non-binary.

However, feminist porn also challenges stereotypes and empowers all types of pleasure. Both kinds of porn aim for fair labor practices too.

Ethical and Mainstream Porn Differences

Two young women facing one another while seducing each other

As mentioned, in ethical porn, performers and filmmakers get paid equally. The adult films are made in safe environments for the workers and show real sex. It offers different types of pleasure, diversity, and sexuality.

And the key component: it is consensual. As mentioned earlier, sometimes mainstream porn uses underage sex workers or trafficked victims and does not ask for consent. Even when consent is provided for some acts, there are some production companies that push the boundaries of consent and are known for violating the limits that actors agreed to. Ethical porn allows actors to decide what they feel comfortable, and it keeps them safe.

Pay for Your Porn!

Ethical porn is not usually free, but there are exceptions. This is specifically to guarantee fair working conditions for all. Knowing that you are engaging in a fantasy (and not the real life exploitations of another human) can hopefully provide you the relief necessary to feel good after your (hopefully) orgasm.

Paid porn also reduces the chance of porn reaching places such as social media and tube sites. This protects performers and reduces the chances of underage children accessing content. While it may feel frustrating to pay for erotic imagery, especially when so much is free, keeping it behind a paywall can help reduce the likelihood of children endure to be exposed to sexually explicit images that are beyond their level of cognitive sophistication to understand Seeing porn too young can engender a trauma response similar to experiencing sexual trauma directly, even though it a non-contact experience, and can have a significant impact on the child’s developing arousal template.

Why Care About Ethical Porn?

Ethical porn represents all. However hardcore, you can relax knowing the actor is consenting. There is no unwilling degradation or treatment.

It is also essential to be mindful of porn use. Yes, it is good to switch off. But you can enjoy sexual pleasure without any moral conflict with conscious viewing.

Ethical porn also can improve relationships with real sex. Mainstream porn's unrealistic portrayal of sex can mean people struggle to adapt. If porn is your only source of sexual education, it can create a set of scripts that do not carry into sex with a partner in real life, leaving partners feeling disappointed or confused.

High-quality paid porn prevents you from mindlessly scrolling through free sites and reinforcing a dissociated relationship to porn. While not morally wrong or bad, excessive dissociation and porn use with masturbation can lead to compulsivity and can distance you from pleasure in a sustainable way.

Ethical Porn Sites

There are many ethical porn sites out there, which are worth investing in. Here are a few to get you started. But also do your own research to check they align with your values and interests.

Make Love Not Porn

Cindy Gallop created Make Love Not Porn to show real sex. Ms. Gallop involves real couples and individuals who get paid for their time (and pleasure!). They have control over the content and can remove it at any time.

Erika Lust

Erika Lust is an award-winning filmmaker who makes erotic films. She uses high-quality realistic sex and storytelling. There are different types of series and movies to explore.

And she gives employees masturbation breaks, which apparently improves their productivity!

Bright Desire

Independent filmmaker Ms. Naughty shows all her erotic films here. Bright Desire is described as smart porn for men and women. It aims to explore fantasy and enhance pleasure.

Is There a Catch?

Two young men laying front to back while one of the men seduced the other

The argument that ethical porn is 'vanilla' can be challenged. Find a site that aligns with your interests. There is plenty of variety out there, with kink, consensual nonconsent, and bondage, etc. included.

Also, be mindful of how you are consuming ethical porn. Like with mainstream porn, if you think it is having a negative or destructive impact on your life or day to day functioning, seek support.

Ethical porn and feminist porn can also be used to market mainstream porn. This is another reason to support paying for the porn you consume, with a site you trust! Research sites and find those sites that explain how they are ethical. That is a good start toward identifying a production and distribution team that is committed to transparency and accountability.

Some people argue that ethical porn should just be all porn, but the industry is not there yet. This is a start. Women, transgender, and non-binary folks should have equal opportunities in the industry, and the community of folx committed to producing and consuming ethical porn is helping to inch the whole industry toward the same end. You can be a part of that revolutionary shift. In doing so, you are declaring that sexuality is not shameful, and those who do the work are human beings who deserve to be respected, just like those who consume porn. What a sex-positive message!

Consciously Watch Porn and Feel Good

It is time to watch adult films on ethical porn sites. Engage in sex-positive porn to maintain your moral principles and feel good about your search history!

You are more likely to feel good about your viewing choices. And you can start exploring your own pleasure and sexual health, wellness, and pleasure more, once you can be assured that no one is getting hurt on your watch. Unless they have consented to it of course!

Consciously consuming porn is also normalizing pornography while honoring everyone involved. And an erotic film that shows real or realistic sex is a lot more masturbation worthy.

Do not forget a sex toy or two before you switch that ethical erotic film on. Check out our best sellers to get started!

References

Fritz, N., Malic, V., Paul, B., & Zhou, Y. (2020). A Descriptive Analysis of the Types, Targets, and Relative Frequency of Aggression in Mainstream Pornography. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 49(8), 3041–3053. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01773-0

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(2021a, March 31). The Beauty of Diversity: What Does It Mean to Be Transgender in Today’s Society? JIMMYJANE. https://jimmyjane.com/blogs/blog/transgender-diversity-beauty

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Internet Watch Foundation. (n.d.). What we do. IWF. Retrieved July 20, 2021, from https://www.iwf.org.uk/what-we-do

JIMMYJANE. (n.d.-a). Best Sellers. Retrieved July 20, 2021, from https://jimmyjane.com/collections/best-sellers

JIMMYJANE. (n.d.). New Releases. Retrieved July 20, 2021, from https://jimmyjane.com/collections/new-releases

Parkman, D. (2021, April 9). Pornhub Insights Releases Stats for 2020 “Tech Review.” XBIZ. https://www.xbiz.com/news/258472/pornhub-insights-releases-stats-for-2020-tech-review

Reid, C. (2021, May 13). Boss Lets Staff Take “Masturbation Breaks” At Work. Lad Bible. https://www.ladbible.com/news/weird-boss-lets-staff-take-masturbation-breaks-at-work-20210513

Tennis, T. (2021, May 26). Porn and Human Trafficking: The Facts You Need to Know. The Exodus Road. https://theexodusroad.com/porn-and-human-trafficking-the-facts-you-need-to-know/

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Dr. Kate Balestrieri is a Licensed Psychologist, Certified Sex Therapist, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, PACT Therapist and Founder of Modern Intimacy, a group practiced in Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago. Listen to her podcast, Modern Intimacy on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and follow her on IG @drkatebalestrieri.