Written by: Ashley Cunningham
RE: Fight the New Drug’s trending video* interviewing Elizabeth Smart about her traumatic kidnapping & abuse (TW: Rape, abuse)
*Not including an actual link to their inflammatory garbage. Google if you’d like to see some sex-negative nonsense that doesn’t propose any real solutions outside of “Choose Love, Not Porn.”
What happened to Elizabeth Smart was horrific. Let’s start there. What she was forced to do for so many months is unimaginable. I am sickened and saddened, however, to see Fight the New Drug using her story of extreme abuse and rape as a way to keep pushing the narrative that pornography *causes* situations of violence like this one. While there are certainly TOXIC practices happening within mainstream pornography, to use this tragedy to argue that pornography was the motivation for Smart’s rapist is dangerous, irresponsible, and honestly, just unhelpful.
FTND promotes shame and stigma. Shame and stigma cause silence. Silence makes CHANGE impossible.
FTND silences progressive change by arguing that ALL of porn is toxic, erasing incredible porn contributions/creators, entire communities, and individual experiences. FTND continues to feed society’s belief that porn is evil, that it isn’t worth saving, that is has no value, and that the people who make their living in pornography are not worth fighting for. It uses pornography as a scapegoat for other societal problems, deeming certain expressions of sexuality to be “right” and “wrong.” Porn doesn’t ruin families, incite sexual violence, and/or make it impossible for you to get it up *on its own.* It can certainly influence people negatively, but that is also the result of: a lack of sexual literacy education, a closed dialogue on sex/sexuality/porn, societal issues that filter into pornography, and the good ol’ patriarchy.
If we had nuanced conversations about the problems within pornography, we could start to propose solutions, create regulations, set standards, educate our youth about reality vs. porn, and promote sexual literacy.
Imagine if anti-porn supporters identified the parts of porn that they wanted to reform and integrated sex positivity and intersectional activism into their work.
Mainstream porn can be very toxic, but abstaining from porn, continuing to demonize porn, and repressing the conversation working to advance pornography to be respectful of both audience and performer is NOT going to fix that. In fact, it’s going to keep the porn status quo where it is: underground, hidden, stigmatized, male-dominated.