Don’t be taken in by Pornhub’s financial gaslighting: they have built their brand on racism and hate-speech

Pornhub has once again proved they will stop at nothing to convince the general public that they are a harmless, socially progressive organisation – and not a hub of sexual abuse and violence – this time by tweeting their alleged solidarity against racism and support for campaigns in the US, following the horrific and brutal killing of George Floyd by the police.

The website has announced that they will be donating $100k to funds such as the Bail Fund and Black Visions Collective in order to demonstrate their commitment to fighting racism. This may seem like a positive step taken by a website that has recently been under the spotlight for child abuse profiteering accusations, but it cynically glosses over the fact that they have been profiting from, and indeed reinforcing, grotesque and vile racism and racist stereotypes for years.

Video titles include “black slave punished by white master” and “gang banged by blacks”, which distressingly are the more “publishable” titles. For years, Pornhub have allowed videos that encourage racist stereotyping and degradation to exist on their site, despite the fact it goes against their own terms. They have directly profited from the proliferation of racism and hate speech on their site, and this cannot be forgotten in light of their financial donation to campaigns against systemic racism in the US.

Former porn performer Vanessa Belmont has spoken out about the endemic racism of the industry, stating:

I was routinely offered less money than white and Asian women, even when they were no more “famous” than I was. I soon realized that if I wanted to get anywhere in porn, I was going to have to forget my dreams of doing tame boy-girl or girl-girl scenes, and get as hardcore as I could.

I started doing just about everything under the sun, and I often did it for less compensation than women of other races. But even though they may often get paid more, they also face racism in their own way. All you have to do is watch your average interracial porn video to see it. (In porn code that means a black man and a girl of any other race.) The women in these videos are frequently called racially-charged, degrading names, and many interracial movies have over the top racist themes.

Despite this, porn is often looked at as nothing more than “fantasy”. But the discrimination and abuse these women experience is very real.This also extends to male performers, who are often asked to act in stereotypically racist and degrading ways.  As Belmont states here regarding how directors viewed her (also-performer) boyfriend:

My boyfriend grew to hate doing porn, because he was constantly told to act more like a thug stereotype. He got passed up many times because he was not dark enough, and because he was uncomfortable being rough with women and calling them racist names. He wasn’t good at playing into the “scary black man” persona, so directors went for the guys that could.

If mainstream TV and film production companies released films with titles such as “black slave teen gets what she deserves”, they would rightly be held to account and very possibly shut down for good. So why is porn, and the videos available on Pornhub, any different?

Pornhub, like any other propagator of racist media, should be held to account and recognised as the morally bankrupt organisation that it is. They cannot claim to stand in solidarity against racism when they profit from it.

In the light of the tragedy that has engulfed the US in recent days –which is distressingly symptomatic of entrenched, institutionalised racism – communities across the globe are coming together to voice their disdain for hate-filled, racist rhetoric and actions and demand change. At CEASE UK we believe this refusal to tolerate racism must extend to the porn industry, and Pornhub in particular, which has plied its trade by proliferating racist, misogynistic, violent videos for decades. They should not be beyond reproach, and gas-lighting the public with cynical publicity-stunt donations will never change that.

Act now: sign the petition to shut down Pornhub on here