Is Porn the Same as Prostitution?

For many people, pornography is in a whole different category than prostitution. Men who would never think of buying time with a prostitute will watch porn all the time. Clearly, they are different enterprises, right?

I’m not so sure. Here’s why…

We need to be clear what we mean by “pornography.” Are we talking about the end product (the pictures and movies created), or are we talking about the industry that makes that product? If we’re talking about the industry, then pornography is most certainly prostitution. People are getting paid to perform sexual acts. The only difference is there’s a camera in the room.

From a legal perspective, the law says that any pleasure derived from the act of making a porn film is not what the actors or actresses are getting paid for. They are getting paid to act. They are being paid to make a film, and for this reason, they are not considered prostitutes.

But this is really a false distinction. If I went to a prostitute and I brought a camera with me and said, “Okay, I’d like to hire you to make this film with me. I’m going to have sex with you and record it so I can go back again to watch it for my personal use. Oh, by the way, I might really enjoy the whole experience, but that’s not what I’m paying you for. I’m paying you as an actress in my film.”

This seems completely ridiculous. First, it overlooks the obvious: she’s engaging in an act of paid sex for the pleasure of others, which is the very motive of prostitution. Second, porn is, in some sense, even more exploitative: you are not just using the woman one time for your selfish pleasure; you are now exploiting her image again and again for pleasure.

There’s so much more to the story. To learn more about the connection between porn and other forms of sexual exploitation, download the book, Stop the Demand.

Download “Stop the Demand”