Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Virtual Conference — Pornography and Prostitution: Connecting the Dots

In the 1970s and 80s, feminists argued that prostitution could not be separated from pornography, or, as Andrea Dworkin so vividly put it, “porn is prostitution with the camera rolling.” With the migration of the sex industry to online platforms, Andrea Dworkin’s prophetic words are undeniable. 

Over the ensuing decades, there has been a highly successful public relations campaign by the porn industry to distance itself from other aspects of the commercial sex industry as a way to legitimize pornography. 

But this disguises what porn really is: filmed prostitution that is coercive and abusive for the female performers, and closely linked to other parts of the sex industry in both its practices and societal impact.

The goal of this conference is to explore how — from recruitment to consumption — pornography and prostitution are inseparable. While economists use the concept of value chains to describe the steps involved in creating and disseminating a “product,” the commercial sex industry would be more aptly referred to as a harm chain. 

Speakers include actor and activist, Ashley Judd; anti-sex trafficking activist and author, Vednita Carter; Research Director at Talita Sweden, Meghan Donevan; Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Taina Bien-Aimé; and the Culture Reframed Team.

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  • 10:00 a.m. Welcome and Introduction from the Culture Reframed Team
  • 10:15 a.m. The Sex Trade as a Global Harmful Cultural Practice: Targeting Sex Trafficking, Violence Against Women, and the Demand for Prostitution Worldwide, Taina Bien-Aimé, Executive Director Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
  • 10:45 a.m. Pornography as Filmed Prostitution, Dr. Gail Dines, Culture Reframed Founder & President
  • 11:30 a.m. What Are the Connections Between Porn and Prostitution? Meghan Donevan, Research Director Talita
  • 12:00 p.m. Lunch, Optional breakout rooms for attendees to connect
  • 12:45 p.m. Ashley Judd Meets Andrea Dworkin: What was it like playing Andrea in the film “My Name is Andrea”? Ashley Judd, Actor, Activist, and Culture Reframed Ambassador
  • 1:15 p.m. Prostitution and Sex Work: Are They One and the Same? Vednita Carter, Vednita Carter Ministries
  • 1:45 p.m. Break, Optional breakout rooms for attendees to connect
  • 2:15 p.m. Porn, Prostitution, & Social Media: Connecting the Multi-Billion Dollar Industries & Their Harmful Effect on Kids, Dr. Amanda Sanchez, Culture Reframed Program Coordinator
  • 2:45 p.m. OnlyFans: The New Digital Bridge Between Porn and Prostitution, Dr. Eric Silverman, Culture Reframed Research Associate
  • 3:15 p.m. Break
  • 3:30 p.m. Breakout rooms for attendees to connect
  • 4:00 p.m. Q&A with the Culture Reframed Team
Register Here

Sessions & Presenters

The Sex Trade as a Global Harmful Cultural Practice: Targeting Sex Trafficking, Violence Against Women, and the Demand for Prostitution Worldwide

Taina Bien-Aimé, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women

The United Nations estimates that 94% of detected sex trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls. The destination of sex trafficking is the sex trade, which includes prostitution and its audiovisual partner, pornography. The sex trade is a vibrant, multi-billion-dollar global market buoyed by the demand for it, namely sex buyers or men (and a few women) who purchase sexual acts from the most disenfranchised individuals on the planet.

This presentation examines the system of prostitution and pornography as harmful cultural practices that are difficult to tackle, not only from a legal perspective, but also because our societies, political representatives, academic institutions, and our media normalize prostitution — on screen and off — as innocuous entertainment. In examining the mainstreaming of sex buying and sexual exploitation, we will highlight select prominent cases such as those involving financier Jeffrey Epstein, American singer R. Kelly, former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and CEO of the New England Patriots Robert Kraft, among others.

As the sex trade is also highly racialized and thrives on racism and ethnic discrimination, we explore its connection to colonialism and the expansion of the sex trade across Asia-Pacific, Africa, and the Americas.

Pornography as Filmed Prostitution

Dr. Gail Dines, Founder & President, Culture Reframed

To better understand the linkages between porn and prostitution, this presentation will explore the ways that the business concept of “value chains” can be harnessed to unpack the social and economic ecosystem of pornography and prostitution and the nature of the violence inherent in both. However, when applied to the sex industry, the term “harm chain” is more applicable, because each stage causes more harm to women. Moreover, these harms are not unfortunate “byproducts,” but are central to the value (sexual pleasure) of the user. The more brutal, cruel, and violent the “sex” act, the more the users feel as though they got their money’s worth. Because the sex industry both creates and reinforces misogyny, harm reduction is not the answer. The only way to stop the harm chain is to close down the commercial sex industry.

What Are the Connections Between Porn and Prostitution?

Meghan Donevan, Research Director, Talita

Most people claim that pornography is “just fantasy” and separate from prostitution. Yet empirical data and survivor accounts paint a very different picture. Presenting the latest research on the pornography industry, this session will show why pornography is inseparable from prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation. We will highlight the connections between pornography and prostitution, including pimp ensnarement and exploitation tactics, antecedents to entry, psychological and physical harms, and psychosocial needs. Listeners will come away with a deeper understanding of the overlap between pornography and prostitution, and consider why pornography may be a particularly damaging form of sexual exploitation.

Ashley Judd Meets Andrea Dworkin: What was it like playing Andrea in the film My Name is Andrea?

Ashley Judd, Actor, Activist, and Culture Reframed Ambassador

In the groundbreaking new film, “My Name is Andrea,” Ashley Judd, along with other renowned actors, plays the iconic feminist Andrew Dworkin who fundamentally changed the way people think about the commercial sex industry by identifying it as a form of sexual slavery. Her words were prophetic. With the explosion of the online sex industry, sexism and misogyny have become so normalized it’s akin to the air we breathe. Our children are growing up in an increasingly pornified culture, and pornography has become the de facto form of “sex ed” around the world. Ashley will share what it was like to play the role of Andrea Dworkin and to be steeped in her work, how it has further deepened her lifelong commitment to women’s liberation and activism, and how she sees the legacy of Andrea being carried forward.

Actor Ashley Judd

Prostitution and Sex Work: Are They One and the Same?

Vednita Carter, Vednita Carter Ministries

For decades prostitution has been known as the oldest profession, which leads people to believe that since it’s a profession it is a form of work, a job like any other job. This statement has been tossed around since the beginning of time and very few have ever debated as to the accuracy of it. It is assumed that women who sell their bodies do so because they choose to, that they enjoy the sex, and they are happier being sexual. The belief has always been that women make lots of money in prostitution doing what they do best while enjoying it at the same time: having sex acts with strangers of different races, ages, heights, and occupations. Throughout history aligning prostitution with profession has been very damaging to women, especially Black Women.

Porn, Prostitution, & Social Media: Connecting the Multi-Billion Dollar Industries & Their Harmful Effect on Kids

Dr. Amanda Sanchez, Program Coordinator, Culture Reframed

In the last two decades, screen time has doubled for young people, with 10-14-year-olds spending eight hours per day and older teens spending even more time on screens. Research shows that 90 percent of teens ages 13-17 have used social media, so the question is not whether they are using it, but when, and what are they being exposed to? In this presentation, Dr. Sanchez will highlight the most popular social media platforms accessed by young people today, exposing how social media has been hijacked by the porn industry. Dr. Sanchez will provide examples of how social media platforms are fueling sexual exploitation and prostitution, from the exchange of sexual currency in live streams to the grooming and recruitment of young people into prostitution and sex trafficking. The harmful and dangerous effects of the collusion of these industries will be discussed. Finally, Dr. Sanchez will share how Culture Reframed, through a public health approach, assists parents and professionals who work with young people in navigating the treacherous terrain of social media.

Webcamming and OnlyFans: New Technologies, Same Old Exploitation

Dr. Eric Silverman, Research Associate, Culture Reframed

OnlyFans bills itself as “revolutionizing creator and fan connections.” But little about what actually occurs on OnlyFans is revolutionary. It is, instead, old-fashioned patriarchy and prostitution, the selling of sex and emotional services mainly by women, mainly for men. In fact, OnlyFans and other platforms on which so-called ‘content creators’ sell videos and photos (as well as used items, especially underwear) are integral parts of a wider global ecosystem in which sexual services are bartered and sold. This ecosystem arises from and depends on online porn. Indeed, without online porn, OnlyFans would not exist since what drives traffic to OnlyFans and similar platforms are the videos shown on pornographic sites such as Pornhub, as well as webcamming sites that include Chaturbate, BongaCams, and LiveJasmine. In this presentation, Dr. Silverman unpacks the connections and reality of this ecosystem, showing that OnlyFans, webcamming platforms, and similar sites and services do not, as OnlyFans claims, allow the development of “authentic relationships” but, instead, peddle inauthentic sexual exploitation — in a word, prostitution.

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