The Broadening Ethical Complexity of the Sex Industry
Spreading the Spectrum of Morality Like a Pair of Beautiful Legs
There are plenty of articles out there about the dangers of pornography, the exploitation of women that takes place, all the seediness and ugly aspects of the sex industry, and I’m not trying to deny any of those. However, it isn’t without its silver lining, and I want to bring attention to that.
For most societies over our collective recorded history, some manner of pornography has existed in one form or another. From cave drawings to pottery emblazoned with graphic sexual depictions, all the way into the 21st century’s digital proliferation of every conceivable genre of pornography. With this country’s puritanical roots, porn has always carried a stigma here, almost more taboo than “normal” sex. Despite the statistics indicating the vast majority of Americans viewing pornographic content regularly and practically everyone at least semi-occasionally, it remains something largely considered shameful. While there is undoubtedly still a shady side involving human trafficking and sexual abuse, which should absolutely be condemned, there is a growing amount of people’s libidos being harnessed as a force for good. With the Internet at practically everyone’s disposal, the ethical questions that it poses are historically unprecedented.
One of the more popular sites, Pornhub, announced in the spring of last year that they were launching their “Beesexual” campaign in order to help raise awareness and money for efforts toward saving the bees. (betc.com/en/entertainment/beesexual-or-porn-to-save-the-bees) If you were somehow still unaware in 2020 that bees are both necessary to our continued existence on the planet and in serious trouble, I’m sorry to have popped that informational cherry in this way.
The videos are more comedic than erotic, with suggestive yet goofy titles such as “HOW TO MAKE A FLOWER CUM IN 3 SECONDS” and being exclusively slow-motion footage of bees pollinating flowers, which isn’t typically considered arousing by most humans. The bees and flowers are voiced by porn stars across the spectrum of sexuality — gay, straight, and transgender. Naturally, since the videos are hosted on PornHub, they are surrounded by quite a lot of NSFW content, so seek them out at your own risk. The altruistic catch is that each view of one of these videos counts as a donation towards charities dedicated to saving the honeybees (www.operationhoneybee.com & www.centerforhoneybeeresearch.org). PornHub isn’t tremendously forthcoming with information on precisely how much constitutes each “donation” or how much it’s raised to date (meaning: I couldn’t find it with a basic Google search), but I look forward to seeing if it makes a positive impact. In the past, the philanthropic branch of the company, “PornHub Cares”, has raised money for domestic violence, cancer, and other endangered species. It’s admittedly pretty troubling when a porn hosting site is doing better things for humanity than companies like Disney or Apple, yet here we are.
When I began writing this, the Australian wildfires had not yet broken out, but from them emerged a shining example of precisely what I was setting out to describe. Kaylen Ward, AKA “The Naked Philanthropist”, is a 20-year-old Australian Instagram and Twitter model (@lilearthangelk on Twitter, Instagram account has since been deactivated) who has raised an astonishing half a million for Australian wildfire relief funds in a matter of days with pictures of her naked body, and that number continues to grow. Due to the massive publicity of her altruistic eroticism, she was publicly outed as a sex worker of sorts, consequently her family has ostracized her and the boy she was talking to quit seeing her. She had already been selling her nude photos, using Twitter and OnlyFans as platforms, but she leashed the momentum of her growing fan base and set it in the direction of something profoundly positive. She continues to make personal money from her OnlyFans, as well she should, but she has made it abundantly clear that money intended for donation will be received by the appropriate charities.
We shouldn’t count on women getting less beautiful anytime soon, there’s no precedent for that as far as I know. Neither should we anticipate that after some 10,000 years of human history and being the sexual creatures that we are, we’re ever going to want to entirely cease viewing erotic content. Not necessarily in the form of pornography as we conceive of it today; we now have these glimpses of possibilities for sexuality to be harnessed as a power for good. Of course, we should still make our best efforts to expunge nastiness like kidnapping and forced prostitution from the sex industry. However, that is more likely to happen from destigmatizing the taboo around it than shaming those who choose to utilize their sexual agency for the betterment of everyone around them.