There is an article over on Alternet about the rise of YouPorn and PornTube and websites which offer "free porn" submitted by other users. Unsurprisingly it turns out that not necessarily every woman featured on the websites (a) knows they're being filmed and (b) has consented to that film being made publically available. Now this smells (stinks) a bit like it has the Girls Gone Wild fiasco, which I have expressed my views on. I took a very deep breath and did the most upsetting piece of research I've done in ages and took a look at what is being shown. Firstly I note that while YouPorn asks you to confirm you are over 18 (like 12 year olds don't know how to click a button), PornTube doesn't even ask that - it immediately shows you hardcore pornographic images, like close-ups of anal sex. But the videos themselves - and there are an awful lot of them - include the following:
1) Women who work in lap dancing and strip clubs - putting paid to the idea that these places aren't in many cases, actually brothels.
2) Women who are working as prostitutes.
3) Women who appear to be under age and who are listed as "teen" and "virgin".
4) Women who are way too drunk to have given any kind of meaningful consent.
5) Women who are unaware they are being filmed.
6) Women who are unaware that the film is going to be posted on the internet, i.e. who believe they are "performing" privately.
7) Women who appear distressed and in pain, even women who are actually crying, but are being physically forced to continue with what they are doing.
Now I don't understand how it can be legal to publish pornography without the consent of everybody featured in it. Surely that is obvious. And just because a person has consented to engage in a sexual activity doesn't mean they have consented to have that activity recorded and published. Consent has to happen separately for every element of sexual activity. And consent can be withdrawn too. Consent is not a matter of a one-off nod that then holds for any and every activity you might possibly consider sexual over an indefinite period of time.
So we need a new law (or is there an existing one that would fit the bill? lawyers out there?) that says it is incumbent on the publisher of the pornography to confirm that all parties involved have given full consent for it's publication.
But also we have existing laws about sexual assault, prostitution, lap dancing clubs, under-age sex and rape. We need to apply them. Some of the material on these sites is in fact video footage of a very serious crime taking place. Shouldn't someone be addressing that?