2 minute read

Is Porn the Same as Prostitution?

Last Updated: August 4, 2020

Matt Fradd

Matt Fradd is the author of Delivered: True Stories of Men and Woman Who Turned from Porn to Purity. After experiencing a profound conversion at World Youth Day in Rome in 2000, Matt has worked through full-time lay ministry in Australia, Ireland, Canada, and Texas. He has served as an apologist for Catholic Answers and has traveled all over the world, speaking to tens of thousands of teens and young adults. He and his wife Cameron have four children and live in North Georgia.

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”
  • Comments on: Is Porn the Same as Prostitution?
    1. A Different Take on Prostitutes on

      Prostitutes get such a bad wrap because of the Bible. I know a few prostitutes. Those girls are not bad people and the vast majority of men who see them are not bad people. Most of the girls just need money and most of the guys are lonely as can be. Yes, you hear the horror stories, but the reality is much more mundane. Furthermore, I know hookers who are very kind. I know prim and proper church going women that are mean as hell. They beat people into the ground. Point fingers and are so nosy. They simply are so arrogant that they think they are superior to others and in their arrogance, they destroy people’s lives. Being obsessed with religion can destroy a family just as quickly as a man seeing a hooker can.

      I think prostitutes get such a bad wrap for three reasons: 1) The Bible, 2) on some level, women know that if prostitution was legalized many husbands would leave their wives because frankly, many women do not treat their husbands that well, and 3) many women realize that men would seriously consider not getting married if they could get regular sex from a woman and not have to get married — divorce courts have made marriage toxic for many men and men know this all too well — there are men that could literally see a prostitute every week for a decade and that still not be equal to what they lost in a divorce. Ever see a man lose everything he ever had in a divorce and not be able to get his kids simply because he is male??? It is not a pretty sight and it is so immoral you can not believe it. Men kill themselves over it.

      Right now, in a marriage, everything is out of balance. It favors women way too much. Feminism has assaulted the family like nothing else ever has. It is from both ends — the massive amounts of divorces and the massive amounts of abortions. Feminism was a great idea when it started, but what it is today is toxic. Absolutely toxic. Feminism is not at all about equality. It is about superiority and society better wake up to this fact before it is to late.

      You know the sad part? None of it is going to get better. It is going to get infinitely worse. The time to turn this all around has already set sail. The genie is out of the bottle and it is not getting back in.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        I’m not following. Prostitutes get a bad rap “because of the Bible”? In what way?

        This video isn’t about the problems with prostitution, per se. The video just ties the business of pornography to prostitution. I completely agree that many prostitutes, especially because of the circumstances of their entrance into prostitution, are as much victims as they are accomplices. What in the video didn’t you agree with exactly?

    2. A Different Take on Prostitutes on

      What I disagree with is this. I fundamentally disagree that a woman who does porn is exploited. She made a choice to do porn or be a prostitute. We have totally gone into the realm of insanity when we say a person who chooses to do something is the victim of the very thing they chose to do. It totally flies in the face of personal responsibility for ones actions. Is the obese person who chooses to eat a cake the victim of the cake? Is the boxer who chooses to box in a match the victim of the person he is fighting? No. They are not. They simply chose to be eat that cake or box in that fight. You have even gone further down the rabbit hole and said an image can be exploited. An inanimate object is now able to exploited.

      Where does it end? I do not think you realize where your thought process ultimately leads. You are making the assertion that viewing porn is equal to prostitution and thereby, punishable by law. Ultimately, you want to police people’s choices and thoughts. Believe me when I say, their are people in this world that want to arrest people for thoughts. It has already happened in America. I myself know a person who went to prison for something that never happened that was against a person who does not exist. Ever see what happens to a person condemned to be a felon for life for a crime that never happened? A crime that is essentially a thought crime? Death is what happens. The death of a real person over thoughts.

      People make choices. It is that simple. We are totally disregarding this fact. The girl who does porn is not a victim. She made a choice. She had the choice to say no. It is this simple. I notice that Covenant Eyes likes to push the lust agenda and disregard the basic understanding that people have sex drives. You know what you guys are really missing the point about? You are only dealing with symptoms of a much bigger issue. Porn use is simply a symptom.

      There are much greater questions to be asked about women who do porn or prostitution. Questions such as: Why are people reduced to doing porn? Why can they not get a normal job that can pay the bills? Why is there such a disparity in wealth? Is capitalism conducive to a moral society?

      There are much greater questions be asked about the man who watches porn or sees a prostitute. Questions such as: What has caused him to be so lonely to do this things? How can we help him not be lonely? Are we being realistic about what it takes to maintain a marriage over the long term?

      Ultimately, I am just a big believer people are not the victims of the things they choose to do.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Nowhere does the video or the article make the assertion that porn is or should be punishable by law. Where are you getting that notion?

        In summary, you believe porn cannot, by its very nature, be exploitative because the women in porn choose to do it. I disagree with you. Exploitation is just making use of someone unfairly. If someone has a natural weakness and I use that weakness to gain some advantage, I am being exploitative. Similarly, if a person is making poor choices and I use that to my advantage, I am exploiting them.

        So, let’s take the “best case” scenario: a woman prostitutes herself, not out of desperation or coercion, not out of force or fraud, but simply because she loves having sex with strangers and getting paid doing it. If I make use of that choice by paying her for sex, I am exploiting her. It would be like the man who is addicted to drugs who is making the choice to use the drugs: if I make use of that poor choice by trying to sell him drugs to make money, I am still exploiting him.

        Nonetheless, you are operating on a different definition of exploitation that we are, so let’s push past that and get to the heart of your rebuttal: you think we only address the symptoms of the problem and don’t get to the heart of the problem. So, please, let us what you think the heart of the problem is.

      • Alex on

        Performing in porn movies is worse than prostitution because not only are they getting to have sex with a stranger, they’re doing it on camera for millions to see. There is a choice of course for people to participate in it but offering large sums of money to recruit for poem to people who may be struggling financially, is a form of exploitation. Who would humiliate themselves to the world if they weren’t desperate for or obsessed with money? Not many I think.

      • Young Jay on

        You know what?, why don’t you add “I did porn” to your list of job experiences in your résumé and use it to go for and interview to get employed?? Ahh….I don’t think so

    3. Mr.Happy on

      All in all, I have to say that I agree in principle that pornography and prostitution are sort of one and the same. There is a lot of pornography that has very little to do with acting (as a matter of fact, there’s no acting, it jumps right into sex) and when you think about it, the whole thing seems like a scapegoat towards justification of its legality. Now with that said, I think prostitution should be legal and regulated. I certainly feel that the religious crowd plays or has played a major role in condemning it. Meanwhile it is the worlds oldest profession and keeping it illegal endangers sex workers, waste police resources and most importantly, makes it more difficult to control the spread of disease as opposed to if it were regulated. Now, I’ve never been with a prostitute and I have been married for nearly ten years, but what gives me the right to tell others how to live? If the religious-right have problems and complaints about something, tell them to complain about nuclear proliferation or gun violence, or maybe the environment? you know… something we can actually do something about. People are going to screw and get paid for it. As far as the root of the problem with porn, its simple to me… the break down of moral fabric stems from the break down of the family unit: Temptation everywhere (T.V, media, bill boards), low salaries lead to money problems that lead to unproductive marriages, lack of unity among people which divides us (classism, racism, sexism ect…), lack of education especially on sex and the repercussions of early pregnancy (birth control should be over the counter, in my opinion), and there are more reasons but those have to be some factors that drive people away from a good honest marriage and into porn and/or prostitution. You just cant keep trying to control people forever, it tends to backfire. And as far as explotation, in a sense, we are all exploited to some degree. The cops who are forced to endanger their lives, the soldier on his sixth tour of duty, the lonely Walmart employee working for scraps while the corporation rakes in the billion, or the little Chinese kid making the product. Sure we chose to do those things but we didn’t choose all the other sh*t that was shoveled on us.

      Reply
    4. Charles In Charge on

      If pornography is legal so should prostitution. Pornogrpahers make millions and it is sex on camera. There is no acting. The women on camera are paid about $1,000 per “film” People don’t buy pornography for the acting. It is xxx rated for a reason. People are having adult sex. America has a double standard. Prostitution is bad but pornography is good. It is time to stop criminalizing women in the sex industry. Women who make porn movies can get diseases and pregnant. That is not acting. The only reason I believe pornography is legal is because it is a product that can be taxed by the government. The brings the state money. Prostitution is a service business that can’t be taxed. Great article.

      Reply
      • Alex on

        I think pornography is worse than prostition because people are being paid to have sex on camera for millions to see. At least prositution is conducted in private.

      • Noah Edelson on

        I felt the need to voice my disagreement.
        0) The only reason porn is legal is because 75+% of men watch it regularly, as well as 34% of women (and growing fast.) Of the men who don’t watch it, I would imagine a large portion of them simply don’t have the privacy to do so often enough- or are busy having real sex.
        1) Pornography is acting- sometimes. There are pornographic comic books that aren’t acting, and there used to be (could still be, I don’t know) phone-sex type things. But in general, if you are following a script and a camera is on- you are acting. Money isn’t required to act. Cam models rarely have sex on camera from what I gather, and are more like strippers- which is improv acting. And in general, even gender expression is a type of performance. (eg “Act like a man, boy!”)
        2) Not all porn is XXX. Some of it isn’t even X. Bikini models toe the line between erotic and non-erotic representation. For instance Miss Teen USA had a bikini competition back when they were managed by a certain media icon of the time. By dialing that back, they are showing their disapproval with their previous practice of exploiting underage girls for profit
        3) Women in the porn industry *don’t* get diseases nearly as frequently as your average woman. This is due to heavy regulation of STD/STI tests, and the responsiveness of the industry (they stop production until mandatory re-tests are performed. I don’t have numbers on pregnancy, but I imagine most porn actresses are on birth control.
        4) I agree we should stop criminalizing women in the sex industry.
        5) Your pay data is pretty accurate. The pro porn industry pays women more for scenes than men, generally, and pays women more for interracial scenes. (In the industry, “interracial” is code for black men with white or Asian women 98% of the time- largely due to the taboo nature of that trope.) Only in the late 90s were “anti-race-mixing” laws taken off 12 state constitutions.. the bible belt states really dragged their feet on that one. Oddly, they consume the largest amount of both gay and interracial porn in the world, according to various analytics blogs, like Pornhub’s Insights.

    5. Alex on

      There is this illusion in some places that somehow there are ‘stars’ in the industry. But in reality they are famous among the audiences that are gratified from watching them. If you look at how pornographic performers are treated in real life it is quite different of course. You hear of stories of devastated families, of people losing their jobs and careers, of bullying and sexual harassment at university etc. Who would want to marry someone who does or did porn or even have a serious relationship with them? Not many. So in reality these individuals are just used and then spat out. How many regretted their decisions to have their most private matters permanently and publicly recorded? What psychological harm could this regret cause? They lose any form of respect or sense of decency from anyone around them who matters. On our side we can reduce the demand for this industry and the aforementioned harm it causes by not buying or freely viewing the material (where views lead to advertisers paying the producers). It might be challenging to abstain but it can be done, and is also beneficial for our own minds!

      Reply
      • Young Jay on

        Couldn’t agree more. 100% correct

    6. Elena on

      Is it okey for a former porn star to become a 911 dispatcher for Police & Fire? I know someone who got hired as a 911 dispatcher and got the job thanks to the people she knew. She did not disclose her past experience to the state and obtained the 911 dispatcher certification.

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi, Elena, I’m curious why you’re asking. Does she not have the right qualifications for the job? Or, are you disturbed by her past choices?

        Chris

    7. dave on

      The only difference is money. Porn studios must keep records of their “actors” HIV records and payments received for “acting.” The government requires porn studios to have a custodian of records who keeps this information for the government. Therefore, it’s easy for the government to tax the industry. Otherwise, porn and prostitution is exactly the same. Sex for money. Period. At one time, porn was supposed to have some redeeming quality as far as educational, scientific, art, etc. But if you have seen any porn lately, nothing about it is redeeming. Both men and women in porn are subjected to humiliating sexual situations for money (paid to the “actors.”). Some porn is not paid for, such as amateur porn where the parties are simply filming themselves and posting the sex acts online. No money is exchanged in this situation so the government doesn’t care (no taxes to be collected). Just some thoughts. Cheers. Dave.

      Reply
    8. Bad Bunny on

      If sex trade was legal there would be less illegal sex trade.

      Reply

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