Your Guide To Ethical Porn: What Makes It Different & Where To Find It

mbg Contributor By Alex Shea
mbg Contributor
Alex Shea is a freelance sex and relationships writer based in Texas. She studied Life Sciences at San Jacinto College and has a journalism certificate from the University of Michigan.
Your Guide To Ethical Porn: What Makes It Different & Where To Find It

There are a lot of issues with mainstream porn: It tends to be totally centered on what's hot for men, can often depict women in a degrading or dehumanizing way, and isn't always made or shared in a way that's fair or respectful to the performers. So if you've been dissatisfied with most mainstream porn you've come across, ethical porn might be the answer. Here's what makes ethical porn different and where to find it.

What is ethical porn?

Ethical porn (sometimes called feminist porn or fair trade porn) is pornography that is made consensually, treats performers with respect, and pays performers and filmmakers fairly for their work. There is a mutual understanding among everyone on the film set—everyone knows and feels comfortable with what's happening.

“Ethical porn validates the needs, boundaries, and curiosities of the performers," sex therapist Kamil Lewis, AMFT, tells mbg.

It also often shows more realistic depictions of sex, including people with diverse body types, queer relationships, and real female pleasure. One study found every one in four people who visit porn websites are women. Ethical porn attempts to cater to that, offering scenes that aren't solely centered around the male gaze. "Ethical porn is inclusive, creative, and consensual," Lewis says.

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Components of ethical porn.

As an alternative to mainstream porn, ethical porn takes certain items into consideration when producing a film. But how do you know if a platform is adhering to ethical standards, and what ethical standards are they adhering to? 

1. The performers and filmmakers get paid fairly.

Ethically produced adult films recognize performers as workers who must be fairly compensated, just like any other actor or any other type of employee in the world. The same goes for everyone else on set. This is why you generally have to pay for these platforms.

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2. It's usually not free. 

There are some exceptions to this, but in general, there's usually a cost involved to view ethical porn films to make sure performers and filmmakers are paid fairly. The money is used to pay everyone included in the process and to ensure a film is created in a safe space.

3. It's made in a safe environment that treats performers with respect.

"Centralizing the physical and emotional safety of performers is essential in creating ethical porn," Lewis explains. That means performers aren't pressured into doing things they don't want to do or put in unsafe or compromising situations, ever. Performers are people with feelings and opinions that deserve to be listened to just like anyone else. Making sure they're comfortable and relaxed is necessary to create anything ethical.

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4. It shows real sexual pleasure.

A key component of ethical porn is accentuating what pleasure looks like, particularly pleasure for people with vaginas. A lot fewer fake orgasms and immediate arousal and a lot more giggling and skin-to-skin closeness. Sex can be messy and romantic and passionate.

5. It's created for all kinds of viewers.

Mainstream porn has left us with a male-dominated outlook on what sex is meant to look like, feel like, and even sound like. Ethical porn, on the other hand, often showcases what sex looks like from various perspectives and understands that people with vaginas not only watch porn but enjoy porn.

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6. It shows diversity across body size, race, sexuality, age, and ability.

Mainstream porn tends to forget about the way the rest of the world looks, the fluidity of sexuality, and the fact that every age group has sex. But ethical porn platforms aim to feature people from all walks of life. The more inclusive, the better. After all, it's nice to see someone who looks like us in the erotic film we're watching. 

7. Everything is created and shared consensually.

Consent is such a crucial part of what makes mainstream porn seem icky. Sometimes it seems unclear whether the people in a film had agreed to what was happening, and there are many stories of performers who are hit with last-minute scene changes that led to tension on set. Ethical porn has none of that: Everything is created with enthusiastic consent from everyone involved and shared with everyone's consent. Everyone involved is old enough to consent to sex and given the opportunity to state what sexual activities they do or don't feel comfortable doing at any time. 

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Places to watch ethical porn.

Here's a list of platforms to help get you started on looking for ethical porn. That said, it's a good idea to put in your own research to truly dig into any platform you're considering using to make sure they're truly ethical (and not just using the label!) and align with your values.

Warning: These are all obviously NSFW links.

PinkLabelTV

PinkLabel.TV by filmmaker Shine Louise Houston is a platform that explores the fluidity of sexuality and features performers who are queer, trans, people of color, people with disabilities, and older folks. Houston created PinkLabel.TV to provide emerging filmmakers with access to ethical production, sexual health resources, and a global audience.

Bellesa

Bellesa is a porn company run by women and making films that cater to women. "At Bellesa, we believe that sexuality on the internet should depict women as we truly are—as subjects of pleasure, not objects of conquest," according to their website. They offer videos, cams, and written erotic stories.

Kink.com

Kink.com is a platform that highlights BDSM and fetishes. This platform works to destigmatize the shame that surrounds kink and represent various members of society, particularly people of color. 

Bright Desire

Bright Desire strives to illustrate all of the things we love about sex: the intimacy, the fun, the passion. The platform includes scenes of real-life couples exploring themselves sexually and embracing the pleasure they feel without a script. Filmmaker Ms. Naughty says her films are holistic in that more than genitals are shown—you see the sweat, shudders, and vinegar stroke expressions, too.

Make Love Not Porn

Cindy Gallop created Make Love Not Porn (MLNP) in order to showcase what real sex looks like, in every flavor. Real couples and individuals send in their erotic videos and get paid for them. People can remain anonymous if they choose, and they can also remove their videos from the platform at any time. 

Ifeelmyself

Ifeelmyself is a platform that shines a light on female self-pleasure. Yes, this includes portraying the female orgasm in its most raw form. This platform allows contributors to share their videos in exchange for payment. Ifeelmyself offers a forum for consumers to interact with one another about the content they're watching.

Sssh

Sssh is a crowdsourced erotic film platform that dives into the fantasies and desires shared among their members by combining porn and artistry. Through the use of storytelling techniques like virtual reality (VR) and narrative, their storylines stimulate both the mind and the body. 

Lightsouthern

Lightsouthern is an Aussie platform created by Michelle Flynn that strives to create "really good porn for everyone" and does that by showcasing realistic sex—bodies touching, various positions, and intimate situations. It's one of the few porn platforms that offers consumers access to features like directors cuts, film festival cuts, and behind-the-scenes footage.

Frolicme

Frolicme was created with couples and people with vaginas in mind. This platform depicts the art of mutually consenting sex between adults with a focus on female pleasure and passion. In addition to adult films, Frolicme offers other erotic mediums like articles and audio.

Audio porn.

Audio porn is easier to produce ethically because performers don't need to physically engage in sex acts and have their image shared. Erotic audio platforms also tend to cater to women and genders other than men, as they focus more on storytelling.

Dipsea

Dipsea is audio porn that celebrates healthy sex by offering clips for every flavor, interest, or fantasy. They have a story studio where scripts are written in-house, and they partner with voice actors—all of which are paid. Monthly subscriptions start at $9.

Quinn

In an effort to make people feel comfortable in their bodies and with their sexuality, Carolina Spiegel created Quinn. It's a free audio platform that has every ounce of eroticism without the length— think quick clips of porn without the visuals.

Sounds of Pleasure

Sounds of Pleasure is a free audio platform hosted on Tumblr that has a set list of clips that feature the titillating aspects of sex like heavy breathing, raspy voices, and moaning. 

Issues with ethical porn.

Just because a platform or film production house labels their films "ethical porn" does not necessarily mean that it's really made ethically, especially since not everyone agrees on what exactly makes a film and its production ethical.

"Much like 'organic' seems to have no clear meaning for food, I am not sure what 'ethical' means for porn," researcher and neuroscientist Nicole Prause, Ph.D., says.

She says "ethical porn" platforms or film companies should clarify their stance on what exactly makes their films ethical and "help consumers by being more specific about how they think they are honoring ethical concerns." Whether that be how they pay their performers or how they prioritize consent, plainly laid out explanations would ease many concerns consumers have about finding an ethical porn platform to support.

As individual viewers, Lewis emphasizes the importance of doing your research. "That means potentially following your favorite performers on social media platforms, such as Twitter. Those platforms give performers a voice, so you might be able to see what their thoughts are on particular scenes or platforms," she explains. "It also will give the opportunity to follow some of their work that is produced independently, or not on mainstream sites.”

The bottom line.

In an effort to change the way our society perceives sex, ethical porn provides the opportunity to bask in sex-positive experiences without feeling guilty about our search history.

However you prefer to engage in porn, make sure you're paying attention to the company you're supporting. Opt for companies who are inclusive, treat their performers with respect, and encourage a sex-positive message. All it takes is a little digging and diligence.

And Prause adds, "When you identify one that fits your values, support its production by consistently paying or rating the content well."

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