FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Porn Industry and the Tea Party Playbook

by GAIL DINES

The UK porn industry seems to have taken a page from the Tea Party’s organizing playbook by setting up a group called Sex and Censorship that markets itself as an organization dedicated to “defending Free Speech and Sexual Freedom.” Reading their website and Facebook page, however, reveals a very different story. S&C seems more like an organization dedicated to defending the speech of the porn industry by consistently attacking groups that question the industry’s exploitation of its employees or its domination of the sexual landscape with misogynist images that undermine the civil rights of women.

A bit of digging around reveals that S&C, rather than being an authentic grassroots organization, is actually an industry-driven Astroturf group with fake grassroots. S&C is the brainchild of Jerry Barnett, who was described by the BBC in 2008 as “the boss of the UK’s biggest adult website”, and is now chairman of the Adult Industry Trade Association. Given Barnett’s porn industry background and backers, it is not surprising that S&C is particularly concerned with limiting governmental regulation. According to the website, “We aim to reach out to journalists and politicians and ensure that scare stories are not used to introduce yet more laws and regulations….”

Last month, New York Senator Chuck Schumer criticized the Tea Party for being funded by wealthy, selfish, narrow-minded people who “don’t want government interfering with their companies no matter what damage their companies may do to their workers, to the environment or to anybody else.” He could have been talking about the porn industry here, because it has willfully put porn performers at risk by fighting measures in the US to enforce condom use. Although studies have found that STDs are rampant in the industry, the industry treats the performers as contract workers, so it doesn’t have to pay health insurance or any other benefits.

The similarities between the Tea Party and S&C became most apparent last week when the group placed Stop Porn Culture in the crosshairs of their rifle by organizing a protest of our first UK conference on March 15th. Adopting the now-predictable Astroturf method of inverting reality, S&C framed Stop Porn Culture, an educational group dedicated to raising consciousness about the effects of porn, as a group working to ban and censor porn, and to “shut down debate.” This claim reeks of hypocrisy, coming from a group whose purpose is to shut down any criticism of the industry and to disrupt our educational conference!

What makes this protest’s methods so like those of the Tea Party is the way S&C adopts standard corporate political strategy by claiming to act on behalf of workers to mask the interests of capitalist elites. S&C is calling the protest “Don’t Censor Me! Performers and Models protest in London,” and is trying to mobilize porn performers to protest against Stop Porn Culture. Astroturf groups’ manipulating workers to protect corporate interests is a tried-and-true tactic that has worked especially well for the fossil fuel industries.

One of the most successful industry front groups, Energy Citizens (set up and financed primarily by the American Petroleum Institute), has a history of getting workers to do the dirty work of the corporate elite by bussing them to rallies to protest government regulation that would protect both the environment and the health of the workers. Likewise, S&C has used their website, Facebook page, and Twitter account to whip up anger among porn performers by accusing Stop Porn Culture of trying to “deny the basic rights of women who choose to be pornstars, strippers and sex workers.”

If the porn industry wants to protest our conference, then fine…. But have the guts to send the producers, owners and distributors who get rich from porn—not the contract employees who make next to nothing. There is something especially manipulative and cowardly about the porn industry and its shills hiding behind the most exploited of women, who are at daily risk of bodily injury, STDs, and emotional and physical abuse.

One of the ironies of this carefully choreographed circus by the S&C is that the very same weekend, across the pond in Virginia, pro-porners will be holding their own conference called Catalystcon. No feminist anti-porn groups will be protesting this conference because, unlike S&C, we believe in the right of individuals to speak freely. As much as we oppose the views held by most of the presenters at this conference, we refuse to adopt Tea Party strategies to silence those we disagree with.

What we do protest are porn-industry-based conferences because—not withstanding the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, or Mitt Romney’s famous 2011 statement that “Corporations are people, my friend”—protesting corporations is not the same as protesting individuals or non-profit groups. As a non-profit educational group, Stop Porn Culture will not be bullied by the porn industry or their front groups. We ask porn performers to see us, not the industry, as allies, because our goal is to radically restructure this society that allows men to get rich off the commodification of our bodies.

Gail Dines, a Professor and Chair of the Department of American Studies at Wheelock College in Boston, and author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality , was an expert witness in the Free Speech v Eric Holder Case.

 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail