A challenge to "Ethical Porn Consumers" from Salon.com

Here’s a link to a posting from the Salon.com blog, Broadsheet. Broadsheet is the latest incarnation of Mothers Who Think, a column from a previous decade that never really worked, but that just won't die. Salon has long struggled to find its voice for gender issues, but always ends up, on the whole, with a whiney vibe, in a privileged, coastal and fundamentally conventional feminist-mom kind of way. This is despite women who write elsewhere for Salon.com—Stephanie Zacharek, Heather Havrileski, Cintra Wilson, Camille Paglia—who simply by being themselves do more as human beings and as women every day, than the conventional bobo wisdom and tepid snark of Broadsheet will ever achieve.

The author is writing about condom use and HIV testing in the porn industry. What I appreciated about the linked post was this:

That brings me right back to the same conclusion I came to before: It's all about the audience. For those ethical porn consumers out there -- and I'm convinced they do exist, despite past reader comments to the contrary -- it's possible to vote with your dollars. (Of course, much of what gets traction online is pirated material or free teasers for for-pay content, in which case the consumer vote is less direct.) The best middle ground solution I've come across is one suggested by Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation founder Sharon Mitchell shortly after the 2004 outbreak: Why not promote a "seal of approval" that advertises a porno's ethical production values? The gold standard might be requiring rigorous two-week testing and actively defending workers' right to perform with or without a condom. It would be a disclaimer of sorts -- essentially, "no porn stars were harmed in the making of this movie."


I would favor more HIV testing, although not a legal obligation to use condoms at all times. But that’s not the point.

The point is this: The author is not calling for laws or interdiction, but expressing a faith that consumers of pornography can come to intelligent, thoughtful decisions, can be responsible and ethical. And she’s issuing a challenge that they indeed be responsible and ethical. And that’s where I agree the the author, and on a subject more fundamental than the topic of the Broadsheet entry: Treating porn like any other consumer product (rather than further judging and marginalizing it and its fans) is more likely to improve the conditions of its direct and indirect victims, than is any further campaign of censorship, persecution, and exclusion from the mainstream of culture and of law.