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Do you know Ethical Porn? What it is and why we should look at it

Ethical Porn

Alternatives to mainstream pornography offer a different idea of ​​porn, far removed from stereotypes and hierarchies. And they are often even more fun.

Can pornography be ethical? This is the question posed by directors, producers, actors, and activists who want to propose an alternative vision to porn as we know it, overcoming its limits and critical points. In short, a series of ambitious and necessary goals, moreover in a historical moment in which the porn industry actually has very little to do with the limited and controllable panorama of glossy magazines, private networks, and production studios…

In recent years, the number of freelancers has been steadily increasing, from the creators of OnlyFans to the myriad of amateurs who upload their content to the platforms of the streaming giant MindGeek. However, it is not certain that these contents have been shot or uploaded with the consent of the protagonists: the leaders of MindGeek are accused of not doing enough to protect the victims of revenge porn, making the dissemination of truly ethical alternatives even more urgent.

What is ethical porn?

Those who criticize pornography do not do so out of mere prudery. In the 1980s, anti-porn feminists like Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin argued that pornography doesn’t just represent female subordination, it ends up creating and strengthening it. Even adopting less absolutist positions, it is legitimate to ask how much mainstream pornography ends up conditioning our perception of sex and desire, flattening it on a single point of view: the male, white, heterosexual, and dominant one, often steeped in racist, enabling or sexists.

Ethical pornography has among its objectives the creation of a freer and more inclusive sexual imaginary, claiming the power of other gazes, other narratives, and other bodies, not all homologated to conventional schemes. Furthermore, it aims to eradicate the dynamics of exploitation and coercion, promoting a culture of consent and reciprocity of pleasure.

The difference with mainstream porn

Conventional pornography is made for men, writes the philosopher Amia Srinivasan in the collection of essays The right to sex (Rizzoli), not only because it is aimed at them but also because the visual logic of the shots is an invitation to step into the shoes of the actor, almost faceless. Male stars are not made to be looked at, but to be perfect, handsome, and powerful alter egos of the beholder.

And basically, it is also for this reason that it attracts male adolescents, says the feminist philosopher Lorenzo Gasparrini in Becoming men (Seven editions): commercial pornography deals with the forbidden topic par excellence (ie sex) but “without any psychological, sentimental complication or educational “. Indeed, it makes everything extremely simple: “a pre-established plot of gestures, expressions, athletic performances reassuring and pacifying in their monotony ”.

While it is true that in the age of the Internet, porn is omnipresent and immediately accessible, it does not mean that it must continue to replicate the same hierarchical, phallocentric, and sometimes even misogynistic view of sex. Those who produce ethical porn do not intend to exclude men, if anything, they relieve them of the imposition of having to adhere to a single model of behavior.

The role of women in Ethical Porn

Where are the women in the porn industry? Today, behind the camera. Reversing the canons of porn is the task that many female pornography authors have given themselves, from the pioneer Candida Royalle to the contemporaries Anna Span and Mia Engberg, the source of inspiration for the Italian project Le Girls del Porno. The feminine gaze is distinguished by greater attention to detail, including plot, by the widest variety of aesthetic models on stage, by the openness to masculine sensibility, and by a feminine that does not limit itself to passively accepting the desires of others.

The difference is also noticeable in the shots, with a tendency to dwell on facial expressions even when it comes to more hardcore content. Because it is true that on average women have a more intimate and less mechanical approach to sex, but it is not certain that everything that is feminine is automatically harmless and reassuring. The relationships of domination and submission or the practices of extreme sex also take hold of the imaginary of women, but in ethical porn they never ignore consent.

Advantages and Benefits of Ethical Porn

You can rebel against the monotony of mainstream porn, just create better porn. Better because it does not limit itself to repeating the same plot over and over again, but opens up to a plurality of points of view and experiences that have no place in conventional pornography. And if we believe in the power of porn to shape desire and establish norms and conventions, the first benefit of ethical pornography could be to restore lost complexity to our sexual imagery.

Beyond the content, the other benefit of ethical porn is that it allows us to be at peace with our conscience. In mainstream pornography, the claims of greater control and autonomy of performers often clash with weak contractual conditions and opaque agreements, another critical point that ethical pornography aims to overcome.

If we look through the guidelines for directors proposed by Erika Lust, a leading figure in ethical porn, we realize how many aspects should be clarified even before the casting process is completed.

We are not just talking about fair compensation, revenue-sharing models, and compliance with the rules on safety and sexual hygiene, but negotiation in a broader sense. The cast should be given the opportunity to read the script in advance, so that they can express any doubts and perplexities, to communicate subjective limits and preferences knowing that they will be respected and that there will be no last-minute requests that are difficult to escape. Recognizing that sex is an intimate and personal act, ethical porn producers should make sure they can choose who to work with and who not to work with without fear of repercussions.

 

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