“Mainstream porn is like Playboy”
For many adults, the word “porn” is synonymous with men’s magazines like Playboy and Hustler. But what was once considered porn 20-something years ago is now what we see in pop culture, featured in movies, tv-series and advertisements. The internet has profoundly changed the nature of pornography; it is now just a click away, completely anonymous and usually free. Pornography today takes the form of so-called “gonzo porn”, where close-up shots of genitals make viewers feel as if they were the ones enacting the sexualized acts, and where physical and verbal violence is the norm. (1)
Internet pornography’s accessibility, affordability and anonymity constantly draw in new consumers across the globe. It is estimated that 30% of all data transmitted online today is pornographic content. Type “porn” into google and within the span of a few seconds, porn sites with a similar interface to Youtube (e.g. Pornhub, Youporn) are readily available for a viewer’s browsing. 4.6 billion hours of pornographic material is consumed each year through Pornhub alone, the largest online pornography website. (2) These so-called “tube sites” are all owned by Mindgeek, a global company that disguises itself as a business specializing in web design and IT, with no apparent connection to pornography. In reality, Mindgeek is now a monopoly over the production and distribution of pornography, earning its millions in net worth through advertisements on their websites and by offering viewers subscription to pay-sites with more extreme content—that is, content with more elements of violence and humiliation. (3) Like any other capitalistic business, Mindgeek allocates huge sums of money towards advertisements in popular public spaces. In 2015, a large billboard in New York’s Times Square had Pornhub’s advertisement with the slogan “All you need is hand”, with the underlying message that people can find ultimate happiness if they have access to porn. Mindgeek has a vested interest in normalizing pornography while disguising the industry’s exploitative nature, so that the demand for pornography, and thus their profits, increases.
1. Bridges, A. J., Wosnitzer, R., Scharrer, E., Sun, C., and Liberman, R. (2010). “Aggression and sexual behavior in bestselling pornography videos: A content analysis update,” Violence Against Women, 16(10):1065-1085.
2. Pornhubs yearly statistics.
3. The Economist. Naked Capitalism – Pornography. 26-09-2015.