Pornhub: Not as Good as You Think

The people behind Pornhub have been very busy, but not in the way you might imagine. They’ve taken on the habit of giving back in really good and insightful ways from vastly broadening access to sex education to plowing snow. But why bother doing those things? Pornhub was established in 2007 and purchased by a company called Manwin, now Mindgeek, in 2010. And, if you started reading this article in hopes of it being smutty, it’s not. If you’re still reading, it does get really interesting, even if you utterly despise porn’s existence.

Just two years after Mindgeek bought Pornhub the tube style porn distributor became a light in the darkness. They began a campaign to raise breast cancer awareness with a bus, billboards and all the typical this and that of the media circus. And recently they started a sex-ed program for their viewers (also a big middle finger to conservative states with typical porn use and no focus on practical application) and even made time to plow snow this last winter in Boston, for free.

We’ve all heard about some virtuous person who treated everyone really well and always had a big bright smile until they were found in a basement feasting on some child’s rotting corpse. So I’m wary of anyone who’s too nice.

Ever sell Playboys in sixth grade to make extra money? Me neither, we stole them from our parents and traded them. Mindgeek is doing that but on a scale much larger than a middle school bathroom. They buy up a bunch of the same kinds of distributors, who all thrive on pirated (stolen) goods, and make bank on advertising.

As I said, they don’t only own Pornhub, they own nearly every other website like it. They’re a monopoly. If you’re watching videos of sexual activity online it very probably has something to do with Mindgeek. And that’s a lot of power. If they want to give your videos the ax, they can and it will effectively kill your career. Couple that with the fact that only a handful of people actually pay for porn, driving its price up and pay to the performer down. To make up the difference, these actors are turning to prostitution and using the tube sites like Pornhub for advertising. David from Slate describes:

The decline has continued since then, driving down fees and causing performers to look elsewhere to make ends meet. When South started in the industry, “I could count performers I know who did prostitution on one hand. Now I can count the performers I know who don’t do it on one hand.” According to Salon, while performers working as escorts was rare and frowned upon in 2000, by the end of the decade it had become common. Adult performer Houston told Salon’s E. J. Dickson last year, “If you look at the escort sites, pretty much every porn star is on there.

I’ve heard some deny the differences between making films and prostitution, however, from the perspective of the law, there is a difference. In California—where most of this is happening—someone convicted for prostitution faces jail time, a $1000 fine, and car seizure. Quite a difference from the men caught paying for escorts, who have the option to opt out of prison time if they’re first time offenders.

Essentially, all the great stuff Pornhub has been up to is paid for by stealing from performers and putting them into a situation with serious legal and health repercussions. This is a clear labor issue and what better to tackle it than unionization? And if you’re thinking is there a porn union? Yes, there is. They’re called Int’l Entertainment Adult Union. I don’t know why they named it that. I would have gone with Int’l Adult Entertainment Union, but what matters is that they exist. And naturally, after finding all this out, I sent them an email requesting their thoughts. They haven’t responded.

But think about the potential. A safe work environment where women could perform without fear of rape or pressure to doing things they either don’t want to do or won’t be paid for. Health insurance—STI screenings aren’t cheap, especially with the new administration hellbent on leaving women without healthcare. The power to collectively negotiate better pay, pension, and sick leave. I could go on about the benefits of being in a union but it’s not going to mean much unless we start paying for porn.

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