4. An Online Epidemic

In today’s world, not many people are willing to talk about the effects of pornography on society, simply because they might be indifferent, or they may be unaware of the violation of human rights that is ocurring every day. While traditional prostitution has been outlawed and criminalized in most regions, it has now been adapted to a more modern form via the Internet. As a result, it has only made exploiting victims among different age and gender demographics a lot easier.

As explained in previous sections, the industry regularly exploits its workers by encouraging them to present themselves and be used merely as objects for other people’s pleasure. However, it is also arguable that those who buy and consume such content are also being subject to exploitation - especially men.

  • The ratio of men to women who consume pornography on a regular basis is 3:18.
  • At least 40 million Americans have claimed that they consume adult content on a regular basis10.
  • Most people who view porn have an addiction with it, though only 1 in 200 people are willing to admit that it’s an issue10.
  • Most children have been exposed to online pornography by the age of 119.
  • Children and young teens who are exposed to and seek out pornography are more likely to have sex earlier, suffer from depression, prioritize casual sex, and commit acts of infidelity on future partners9.
  • Almost half of all families in the US claim that pornography consumption is an existing issue with a member of their household9.

In most cases, exposure to pornography can influence harmful behaviors and thought processes.

88% of the most popular porn films showcase physical violence being enacted on a sexual partner, while 49% showed verbal aggression being used. Upon continuous engagement with this type of content, viewers are likely to believe that these behaviors are “normal”, and “enjoyable” if a person is being subject to such actions at worst17.

In some instances, it has been found that prolonged consumption of sexually aggressive pornography (i.e. pornographic content that showcases women in a degrading or humiliating position) has been known to contribute to an increased hostility towards women, acceptance of rape myths, decreased empathy and compassion for victims, as well as an increased acceptance of physical violence towards women. Peer approval of such content has also been known to exacerbate these effects14.

While there are individuals advocating for action to be taken to prevent further exploitation and harm, in actuality, little has been done to combat the harmful aspects of the online industry because:

  1. While there are laws and regulations in place to help those being exploited, there is very little enforcement of those laws1.
  2. The majority of people in modern day society aren’t willing to bring attention to the issue1.

In relation to the circulation of abuse enabled by online prostitution, some of the leading industry giants have been complicit in this exploitation as well - and to a certain extent, have perpetuated it. 
Since early 2020, Pornhub has been the target of a massive campaign, known as Traffickinghub, that aims to bring light to the active role the company plays in the exploitation of young women and children.  As a result of the campaign, led by Laila Mickelwait, the company has recently been brought under fire for allowing videos involving sex trafficking victims and minors to be displayed on their website - some of which have even been publicly recognized under the website’s flawed verification system. As a result, in the month of December, 2020, PH was compelled to delete 90% of their videos which contained the infringing content as a result of a thorough investigation, and lost partnerships between Visa and Mastercard.
As of today, the company’s severely flawed verification system remains in place - unchanged (i.e. lack of age verification) - allowing for the further exploitation of children, and without a safeguard for potentially trafficked victims11.