National Post Article Takes Aim At PornHub’s Critics

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On May 3rd the National Post published an article written by Tyler Dawson entitled “Anti-porn activists come after Montreal-based Pornhub.” Defend Dignity takes issue with many aspects of this article.

Rather than contend up front with well-documented and high profile cases of clear criminal activity featured on PornHub, Dawson instead spends the bulk of his article discrediting those calling PornHub to account. He attempts to water down well-researched criticisms of Pornhub by reputable sources such as TraffickingHub and Exodus Cry’s Laila Mickelwait based simply on religious affiliation.

“Exodus Cry,” writes Dawson, “[is] an explicitly Christian organization in Sacramento, California that takes on all manner of behaviours it views as improper, from sex trafficking to bikini baristas and stripping, and whose founder…preaches Biblical sexual purity.”

Mr. Dawson suggests here that sex trafficking – recognized around the globe as an abhorrent criminal act, one that countries such as Canada and the United States invest millions of dollars to combat every year – is in the crosshairs of a religiously-affiliated organization simply because it is deemed by the organization to be an “improper act”. This type of conflation is not only egregious for a reputable outlet such as the National Post in a time of heightened awareness and research around issues of sex trafficking, it is also revealing of either the author’s extreme bias or extreme ignorance on the subject.

The author goes on to suggest that “newer research” has disputed previous claims that pornography is linked to sexual assault and erectile disfunction. To support this, he references an article from 2009 of which he quotes a sentence from the article’s abstract. In more recent years, there has indeed been plenty of research not only supporting that pornography consumption is connected to erectile dysfunction and sexual assault, but also that pornography consumption is a potentially highly addictive activity that is correlated with increased risk of sexual assault in youth, negatively affects academics among students, and increases social isolation.

It is only after spending most of his article on such “debunking” that Mr. Dawson, at the end of his piece, slides in a few token lines about the well-documented allegations being made against PornHub by courageous survivors. One of these survivors alleges that PornHub not only hosted videos of her actual rape but that the porn conglomerate for months ignored her pleas to remove the video until she posed as her own lawyer.

Despite PornHub’s assurances of improved content reviewing in recent years under new ownership, stories continue to surface of sexual assault videos being uploaded to and viewed on PornHub according to this BBC article. We contend that PornHub implicitly invites uploads of real sexual assault by featuring porn categories such as “teen abused while sleeping”, “drunk teen abuse sleeping” and “extreme teen abuse” on their site – categories that PornHub, in a statement to the BBC, called “fantasies” that are “protected by various freedom of speech laws.”

Accusations by survivors of sexual assault and sexual exploitation are the catalyst that sparked all of this so-called “anti-porn activism” against PornHub, and Defend Dignity believes that the voices of survivors should be at the forefront of this discussion. While we understand Mr. Dawson’s job is to present what he perceives as being all sides of the story, we suggest that in the future he devote at least as much ink to survivors of sexual assault as he does to dismissing and attempting to discredit PornHub’s critics. 

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