We have not joined in recent calls to shut down PornHub and its parent company, MindGeek. Not because we disagree with those who speak out against the companies’ chronic failure remove abuse imagery from their sites. Rather, because our mission is to help people who struggle with compulsive, obsessive porn use. As a rule, that means we try to avoid labeling pornography, or its purveyors, as inherently “bad” or “wrong”, because those words easily lead to shame for users, which in turn feeds into the relentless, destructive tug of addiction.
However, this has been a particularly terrible week in America, even in the midst of what feels like an unrelenting series of them. The outrage over the killing of George Floyd, and the mayhem that has followed on the heels of public protest, has us feeling as anxious, even despairing, as ever.
Then, like a bad dream, PornHub somehow managed make things even worse. To speak bluntly, that really pisses us off. So, please indulge us as we vent our spleen.
In tweets pinned to its official “ARIA” Twitter feed this weekend, the behemoth of the porn industry expressed its solidarity with protesters marching in cities throughout the U.S. PornHub’s official Twitter account encouraged followers to donate to venerable civil rights organizations like the NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center. It even pledged its own $100,000 donation.
In normal times, we would not blink at this sort of crass corporate opportunism. But these are not normal times. And PornHub/MindGeek is not just any company. PornHub and its affiliated sites promote, distribute, and profit from some of the internet’s most virulently racist and racially exploitative content. The pantomime of racial wokeness it tweeted-out was not just an example of poorly-conceived, moment-seizing PR. It was a revolting exercise in perverse cynicism.
PornHub hosts gigabytes of “interracial” videos, many featuring the “N-word” in the title, depicting slavery-related themes, or deploying the most offensive racial stereotypes imaginable. It collects, archives, tags, and categorizes thousands of hours of “casting couch” porn, in which the central premise is the exploitation of a young, poor, brown-skinned woman by an older, powerful, white man. It offers up endless streams of globe-trotting “gonzo” porn in which sex workers plucked from the streets of impoverished Third-World locales submit to what appears to be (and likely is) extreme sexual violence for the camera. And on and on.
We’ve previously written that PornHub tweeting support for civil rights organizations feels akin to Harvey Weinstein delivering the keynote speech at an anti-sexual violence event. But really, that attempt at gallows humor does not begin to capture how debased and amoral (yes, we used the “m” word) a person has to be to express support for a protest movement focused on the very ideas and images that person relentlessly blasts into the public sphere every second, for profit.
Seriously, people who work at PornHub/MindGeek, what the hell is wrong with you? Do you have no sense of decency? Do you so lack for empathy that you do not appreciate the profound pain, lived by your fellow human beings over generations, that has spurred the protests against George Floyd’s murder at the knee – the knee – of a police officer? Does it not occur to you how harmful it is for your sites to collect, and neatly-organize-for-easy-browsing, overtly racist content? Do you not appreciate the anti-social depravity of your algorithms pushing content that glorifies racial exploitation, over and over and over and over? Do you really not see that you are a massive part of the problem?
We have to think that someone working for PornHub/MindGeek has an ounce of humanity, or at least a passing appreciation for the value of showing some basic integrity. So perhaps that person will hear this message:
PornHub/MindGeek, either use this searing moment in history to put your own damn house in order…or do us all a favor and shut up.
Longer-form writing from the PornHelp team on current topics relating to problem porn use and recovery.