Pornhub: A Guilty Empire Built on Innocence

Alice Editorial


Pornhub is building its empire literally on the bodies of children. According to New York Times Opinion Columnist Nicholas Kristof on Dec. 4, 2020, “The Children of Pornhub: Why does Canada allow this company to profit off videos of exploitation and assault?” The young women and younger girls and children who are exposed and debased via Pornhub’s network are generally too naïve or weak to understand the cause and effect of their actions. It is up to women, the mothers and matriarchs, to educate their daughters about feeling strong and confident in their bodies, and to educate their sons that exploiting or otherwise sexualizing an innocent girl is as wrong as it is illegal. More importantly, all women have to educate the men in their lives to respect women of all ages. We’ve suffered through four years of a narcissistic, racist, misogynist leader; he is not the norm, and sadly, he is not the exception, but there are ways to unite and create positive change.

Pornhub is a virus running rampant without any kind of metaphorical vaccine. Its site, according to Kristof, “attracts almost 3.5 billion visits a month, more than Netflix, Yahoo or Amazon,” and brings in revenue “from almost 3 billion advertising impressions a day.” Its influence is vast and commanding. “Pornhub was the technology company with the third greatest-impact on society in the 21st century, after Facebook and Google but ahead of Microsoft, Apple and Amazon,” said Kristoff.

Based in Montreal, Kristoff said Pornhub is the king of pornography with more than 100 websites, production companies and brands under its parent owner, Mindgeek, a private pornography conglomerate. “If it operated in another industry, the Justice Department could be discussing an antitrust case against it,” said Kristoff. It is a menace left unchecked with dire, fatal consequences to the women and girls who have become entrenched in its sordid network. In monetizing the sexual exploitation of children, the revenues are so high that the content and how it is obtained or distributed is virtually left unchecked.

Alice believes that a woman can do what she chooses with her own body; anything goes as long as it’s consensual and age appropriate. In Kristoff’s article the issue is not with pornography, but with rape. The content on Pornhub’s sites varies from straight-up porn to the more villainous child rape, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering or in lavatory stalls, assaults on unconscious women and girls, gang torture, and other misogynist content. “Let’s agree that promoting assaults on children or on anyone without consent is unconscionable. The problem with Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein or Jeffrey Epstein was not the sex but the lack of consent — and so it is with Pornhub,” said Kristoff.

Another issue worth discussion (and previously noted in an Alice editorial four years ago in the Let it Grow issue “Don’t Let Big Business Shave Away Natural Beauty”) is the lack of maturity from the victims in this manipulative male power play. The girls are coerced, cajoled, or embarrassed into submitting to the whims of the boys in whom they are infatuated. And the boys’ relentlessness knows no bounds. They are lasciviously cheered and encouraged by their peers. The girls often act in secret, and without the guidance or self-awareness to realize the ramifications of their actions. If the girl really likes the boy, she will send him a nude video. She does, and he sends it to school friends and posts it to Pornhub. That girl, too young and naïve to know any better, with an insecure need to be liked, unknowingly compromises her reputation and future. She is now, and moving forward, branded as that type of girl. “It was one small thing that a teenager does, and it’s crazy how it turns into something so much bigger,” said such a victim in the Kristoff article. The “bigger” can be addiction, depression, or suicide.

And the girls can’t hide from this one-time mistake because the thing about Pornhub, unlike You Tube for example, is that “Pornhub allows these videos to be downloaded directly from its website. So even if a rape video is removed at the request of the authorities, it may already be too late. The video lives on as it is shared with others or uploaded again and again,” said Kristoff. The victims of these power plays are embedded in the internet’s dark ether-world. Their images and videos will remain, haunting them forever. If contacted, Pornhub will sometimes eventually remove the photo or video, but the damage is done. There are real casualties to this debased exploitation of the women and children who are trapped in the Pornhub universe, but they are a by-product to the revenue they generate.

So, what is to be done to tame this sordid, disgusting, and relentless beast? A variety of solutions are offered in Kristoff’s article.  “And call me a prude, but I don’t see why search engines, banks or credit card companies should bolster a company that monetizes sexual assaults on children or unconscious women. If PayPal can suspend cooperation with Pornhub, so can American Express, Mastercard and Visa.

There won’t be a quick fix vaccination for this rampant disease. It will take time to educate children and bolster their self-esteem to prevent a future generation of victims. But we can monkey wrench the industry with oversight and financial restrictions. Kristoff suggests, “… aside from limiting immunity so that companies are incentivized to behave better, here are three steps that would help: 1) Allow only verified users to post videos. 2) Prohibit downloads. 3) Increase moderation” from the small bank of employees at Pornhub hired to review literally thousands of posts a day. By educating our children, supporting the #MeToo movement, and standing by the victims who fall prey to the machinations of Pornhub, we will make a difference. Individually and collectively, we must lead by example without shame or submissiveness. We are women who walk with our heads held high, our ambitions unchecked, and it is on us to strike down the profiteers who exploit the innocent.

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