XHamster’s “Porn For Women” Competition Is Exploitative

XHamster porn for women competition page

Screenshot of XHamster page

For the last few years the Mindgeek tube / piracy sites have been running what I call a “porn-for-women-washing” campaign. Sites like Pornhub get good mainstream media publicity by releasing visitor statistics highlighting what female visitors are viewing – here’s my 2014 take on what’s wrong with that: “What Women Want” according to a mainstream tube site. Most recently the headlines were how their “porn for women” category was the fastest growing category on the site. Naturally the media love this because any suggestion that women watch porn is always met with disbelief by journalists; this has been the case for the last 18 years that I’ve been making and curating porn for women.

Now tube site XHamster has announced a competition for women-identified filmmakers so they can expand their “porn for women” category. I guess they’re doing this because many existing female filmmakers won’t work with the tube sites to help fill said category (having to send multiple DMCA takedown notices for pirated versions of your films can make you feel less-than-friendly towards tube sites).

XHamster’s competition looks great on the surface: money for amateur and established filmmakers! YAY! Except that a closer look reveals the deal is really just a way of ripping off filmmakers and performers while filling the porn for women category with videos XHamster hasn’t actually paid for.

The deal is this: XHamster wants filmmakers to create a film over 6 minutes that has not been published anywhere else. Then the filmmaker uploads it to the site where it is publicly available to everyone, not just the judges. Once a month XHamster will give $500 to only ONE amateur filmmaker, starting September 2018. And in 2019, they’re proposing to give $1000 to 10 established filmmakers over the course of the year (less than one a month). They’re also offering $10k for a co-production for one final winner at the end.

So I’m sure you can already see why this is not a good deal for filmmakers and performers.

All Risk, Not Much Reward

Firstly, Xhamster want filmmakers to take on all the risk of creating a film without any guarantee of payment, while still getting the benefit of content in their “porn for women” category. This is the really exploitative part of the whole deal. Once you freely upload a video to a tube site, it’s very difficult to get them to remove it.

-------------------------------------------------------
Advertisement

Support independent, ethically made, award-winning porn. Bright Desire features all of my erotic films and writing. A membership to Bright Desire gets you access to every movie I've ever made and lets me keep making female friendly porn!
Click here to find out more.
-------------------------------------------------------

Even if you don’t hand over exclusive rights, your brand new film is up on XHamster, being copied and pirated to all the other small tube sites that rip off existing content which means it’s essentially lost a lot of it’s value after that. Good luck earning further money from it when it’s out there for free.

Secondly, for the single person who wins each month: the prizemoney is just not adequate for covering the cost of making a decent film. Sure, you could film yourself fucking with an iPhone and $500 sounds great… but if you consider that your sexual labour should be worth at least that much, the money doesn’t cover anything else.

For an established porn filmmaker, $1000 might be enough to pay for your performers – a vital part of ethical porn production. But it then means you’re doing everything else for free. Who is paying for the camera? The lighting? The location? The editing software? The editing computer? Who’s paying you for the time and effort it took you to produce, direct, edit and finish the final product?

XHamster is making money from advertising next to your film, they are getting themselves into the mainstream media using your name and product, touting themselves as a supporter of female porn filmmakers but what else do YOU get from it?

Ah, that’s right, exposure.

Remember, this is the porn industry. Exposure is not going to score you a directing gig with any of the major porn studios. They’re too busy trying to scrape by with faux-cest stories and parodies. It’s not going to help you to pay for your next film or set up your own site. It might get you some social media followers, if you aren’t kicked off the platform first (Twitter is pretty much the only social media site that still allows porn). Exposure is not going to pay off the money it cost you to make the film in the first place.

Exposure might help you to get ahead with building your own porn business but in the meantime you’ve lost control of one of your films and you’ve lost the potential future earnings on that film.

XHamster’s competition page currently doesn’t address some of the other issues involved in making porn, particularly the legal issues. Creating sexually explicit content may expose you to prosecution, depending on where you live. You also need to make sure you’re complying with age-verification regulations such as USC2257 (a US law which requires you to put your real name and address on any porn video you create).

There’s also no detail about the actual judging criteria involved – what makes a good “porn for women” film anyway? And who are the people who will be making this decision? XHamster says they’ll be “women-identified… made up of fans, porn stars, journalists and xHamster employees.” Great, but who are they, exactly?

Better Alternatives For Aspiring Porn Filmmakers

Thankfully there are better paying options for those who want to make porn. None of these people demand to use your content for free. Some review your film and offer a licensing deal, sometimes exclusive, sometimes not. Others allow you to sell your own content through their platform. I thought I’d list a few of them here.

Pink Label TV is a video-on-demand and membership platform that showcases independent and queer porn with a focus on woman-identified directors. The site has a focus on feature and short films rather than simple sex scenes, though that’s not a hard and fast rule. They offer non-exclusive use of your work with a 40% cut.

Make Love Not Porn invites people to submit a self-made porn film for review. If chosen it becomes available to rent for $5 and you get half of every rental. MLNP markets itself as “real sex” and promotes couples-style “amateur” porn (though they avoid that term and others for marketing reasons).

Lustery is a European site with a focus on real-life couples. It invites couples to film themselves and submit the footage which is then edited in-house.

Erika Lust has an open call for experienced female filmmakers to collaborate on her site XConfessions. You are invited to submit an idea and she will provide the funding for the film, you do the casting and shooting. Lust Films ends up with exclusive rights to the film. Lust also offers licensing deals for feature and short films through their sites Lust Cinema and Erotic Films.

Bright Desire has occasionally featured guest directors and I’m looking to feature more on a non-exclusive time-based basis. Also self-filmed real life couples. I don’t have an official submissions page set up as yet but it’s coming, stay tuned.

There’s also a growing swathe of clip sites that will host and sell your individual film or scene. This includes Clips4Sale, ManyVids and OnlyFans. You can also consider setting up your own site if you want to get serious about making – and owning – your own work.

For more info please read this post which goes into a lot more detail about places to sell your porn.

Another way to get exposure is to submit your work to the growing selection of porn film festivals. Awards and laurels are great for credibility! Check out my list of erotic film festivals at Sexy Short Films.

And if you do decide to enter the XHamster competition, good luck with it. The porn industry is often a case of rock and a hard place and sometimes you just have to wedge yourself in any way you can to get by.

How Tube Sites Could REALLY Help Porn Creators

I’m screaming into the void with this paragraph but I want to put it out there: the tube sites have massive amounts of traffic, publicity and mainstream reach. If they were genuinely interested in creating good porn and helping filmmakers they would:

  1. Heavily regulate who can upload videos and ensure that EVERY video is authorized to be uploaded by the owner / creator
  2. Ensure that USC2257 documents are maintained for every upload so that there is no underage content on the site.
  3. Stop allowing sexist and racist descriptions on films
  4. Quit using sexist and racist advertising, impose standards for ad banners and descriptions.
  5. Work with existing studios to promote them via their affiliate programs or through associated advertising, using only content authorized by those studios. This includes allowing short clips and not insisting that submitted films should be 15 minutes long.
  6. Stop gaming the search engine results so that performer’s names or porn site brand names appear on pages with no such content on them.
  7. Allow users to easily remove content they have uploaded.
  8. And maybe – just maybe – actually license people’s films and pay for them properly.

This list isn’t just aimed at the big tube sites. It’s all of them, including a certain new “porn for women” tube site who are demanding 15 minute clips from advertising partners (which is essentially a whole scene given away for free for… “exposure”).

I’ve actually had email conversations with managers at tube sites who wanted me to help fill their porn for women category and I made the suggestions above. Suffice to say, they didn’t seem to welcome my advice. I have experimented with uploading promotional trailers – not full clips – onto one tube site. They were mostly buried because the site gives priority to long clips and I suffered a spike in attacks but I did make a few sales. So my final thought on this is: it would make the porn industry more sustainable if the tube sites would work fairly with content creators.

But that seems unlikely to happen any time soon.

 

 

3 Replies to “XHamster’s “Porn For Women” Competition Is Exploitative”

  1. Contests in general are exploitative this way, all the way down to the corporate sales unit that gets all its sales reps to put in free labor in pursuit of the brass ring.

    Well, all of them but the 1 lucky stiff who gets paid more than they would normally but still only a fraction of what the corporation should have had to pay the collective sales force.

  2. “Stop allowing sexist and racist descriptions on films” – I think this is a must for every tube site, but can’t be done due to the lack of manpower (that’s why the tube sites have flags). Just imagine going throughout 1000 videos a day and reviewing and updating each one, and 1000 is for small tube sites….

    1. Given the vast amount of traffic and money these sites have, manpower is not an issue. If Youtube and Facebook can censor nipples and run censorship call centres in Malaysia, the tube sites can do it. What’s more, it would be a simple matter of a script restricting terms when entering them into a form.
      The real problem is that plenty of people just think that type of language is fine. It’s only porn, right?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *