Mainstream Media: Oh, We Couldn’t Possibly Link To A Porn Site!

Over the last week I’ve been having an email discussion with a major website about writing a porn-related story for them. They’re looking to do a series of articles about the porn industry and they told me they liked Bright Desire and my approach.

Great, I said. What’s the compensation?

Turns out, their contributor guidelines have a special clause saying you agree that you won’t get any money but that you are doing it for “exposure” and to get your idea out there. Naturally. Still, I thought I’d ask for money since it was them who had approached me and all. But no.

OK, I said. If you can’t pay me, I will need a biography at the bottom and a link to my porn site BrightDesire.com. A surge in traffic will help sales and that can be my payment.

Uh, no, they said. We can’t possibly link to a porn site.

Well of course not. It’s perfectly fine to want to publish click-bait pieces about the porn industry and to get producers and performers to put in effort and write about their lived experiences and offer up their knowledge but there’s no way these sites would pay or lower themselves by linking to actual porn.

I replied that the site in question needed to have a good hard look at their ethics because they were perpetuating the ongoing stigma that porn performers and producers suffer every day. I make positive, ethical porn but it’s a constant uphill battle for me to make my work available to people thanks to this stigma. I’m constantly ghettoized, censored and shunted into the dark corners of the internet, dismissed as “only porn”, depicted as either frivolous or broken or tainted.

And frankly, it pisses me off. Hence this little rant.

This is not the first time this has happened to me. In December last year I made the mistake of writing a short piece for The Ethics Centre on whether male porn stars could be feminists. I did this without payment but with the assumption they’d give me a link in my bio because traffic, ranking etc. Nope. No link, they said, we couldn’t possibly link to a porn site! Even though they gave the rabid anti-porn feminist a link, I got nothing.

Nice ethics, huh? If nothing else, it taught me not to assume anything. (And yes, shame on me for writing something for no payment. What can I say, I am desperate for any PR.)

It’s part of the wider issue when it comes to mainstream discussions of pornography. The anti-porn/anti-sex work people get to claim the high moral ground. They get to use their own names, they aren’t at risk of stalking or arrest, they are seen a worthy and important people. I wrote about this in 2011: A need for privacy makes this “debate” one sided.

So this is a call for better ethics from mainstream media sites. If you want to feature articles about porn, you should not be afraid to link to porn sites. It’s not like people are going to be surprised if they click. By all means, put a “NSFW” warning but don’t refuse to do it. That’s just classist and exploitative and it plain sucks.

And maybe, just maybe, if you ask people to write for you, you could pay them too.

 

* Note: I haven’t named the website in question because there’s still a chance they’ll change their mind about this and I’m giving them some leeway.

Edit 9th Feb 2017. Apropos of nothing, you might want to know that the Daily Mail bought Elite Daily and now they say its worthless.

 

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3 thoughts on “Mainstream Media: Oh, We Couldn’t Possibly Link To A Porn Site!

  1. This is a tricky one, but I look at the various anonymous sources and ridiculous rumours being reported, and the gravitas afforded ugly fantasies like the anti-sex activists use, and think “what’s wrong with a byline of ‘Ms Naughty says’…” This stuff isn’t new, and it’s become a lot more prominent of late with the various social media “real name” debacles and the current attention being focussed on domestic violence (case for anonymity… made, one would think).

    That said, the Guardian seem to manage to find a few people with either plausible pseudonyms or able to use their real names. Like http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/29/listen-to-sex-workers-youll-realise-we-have-a-lot-to-say-about-labour-rights

    Since 2011 we’ve gained “The Sex Party” who I expect would be the group you were looking for in 2011, but unfortunately while they’re fairly liberal they also say some stupid stuff and do ugly preference deals. In NSW David Leyonhjelm has poisoned the “libertarian” tag as well.

  2. Wow, that is incredibly shit of them. They contacted me too and agreed that I could include links to my work in the article and footer in lieu of payment, but after reading this I definitely don’t trust them to honour their word. Thanks for the heads up. :/ I’ve replied and said no thank you, unless they’re willing to pay AND include a link, because at least then I’m covered if they screw me on the link. I’m really sorry this happened – I’ve been there too, and it sucks.

  3. Hmm, interesting that you were offered links and not me.
    I told the editor to read “Coming Out Like A Porn Star” to get a better idea of stigma. She said she already had.

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