Problem

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is known for lightning fast shipping and selling virtually anything online. While their corporate policy ostensibly prohibits it from selling pornography, Amazon.com is promoting material that sexualizes children and normalizes the dehumanization and sexual commodification of women.

Items for sale on Amazon include child-like sex dolls, photography books with eroticized child nudity, pornographic magazines, and clothing items, and more. Their Kindle e-reader is riddled with sexually explicit content containing incest, babysitter, and group-sex themes. Amazon Prime produces highly sexualized television programming and provides no means for blocking unwanted recommendations for sexually explicit programs.

There is no doubt that Amazon is one of the most powerful companies in the world, not only influencing global economic markets, but also greatly influencing the goods we buy, the media we consume, and businesses small and large. Many maintain that the elite “FANG,” the major four tech companies Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google, are dominating the world. As for Amazon’s part in this, its net sales revenue topped $135 billion in 2016. Forty-four percent of web shoppers go directly to Amazon for product searches. As a bookstore, Amazon has an estimated 3.4 million books for sale and over twenty-five million people use Amazon Instant Video and with their creation of original content, this is growing quickly.

While Amazon’s written policies are typically against selling exploitive pornography, some policies are contradictory, unclear, and not well enforced.

As a result, Amazon has become an online marketplace rife with sexual exploitation.

  • Amazon’s Online Marketplace

Amazon.com sells hundreds of sex dolls, many of which are fashioned to look like young girls or potentially children. Many of these dolls are dressed in school girl and cheerleader attire to further underscore the young age the dolls are meant to depict.

Example of a child-like sex doll being sold on Amazon. Feb 1, 2018.

Clearly, these dolls are portraying women as literal sex objects, which contributes to coarsened social respect for women or values of consent. As Dr. Maras and Dr. Shapiro note in the Journal of Internet Law, sex dolls “have the potential of altering individuals’ views and perceptions of relationships, ultimately, having them interact with humans as they would with the dolls and robots.” [1]

Amazon has a heavy hand in normalizing and promoting the use of sex dolls in America by selling them on its platform. We request that Amazon remove these items immediately.

Further, reports of hardcore pornography and sexually objectifying images showing up when innocent, unrelated searches for products are performed are increasing. Despite Amazon’s terms of service, they sell hardcore pornography magazines and films, as well as products like T-shirts and novelty items that depict nudity and blatant sexual acts. These materials can show up as recommended and sponsored related products even when users want nothing to do with this type of material. Many of these products qualify for Amazon’s Prime shipping rates.

.@Amazon, stop selling sex dolls - many look like children - this is #MeToo culture! #NotMyAmazon Click To Tweet
  • Amazon Studios Original Content

Amazon Studios has begun producing original content for Amazon Prime.

Unfortunately, a sample survey of third-party reviews of Amazon Prime original content shows that 66% of it contains nudity, 82% of which is female, and 36% of the surveyed Amazon Prime original shows contain simulated sex.

In the age of #MeToo and the rising problems of male sexual entitlement to women’s bodies, producing such material is socially irresponsible.

We are calling on Amazon Studios to improve its parental controls so that they are more easily visible and accessible for parents and to consider policies to produce less sexually objectifying content.

  • Eroticized Child Nudity Books

Amazon.com is selling books featuring collections of Jock Sturges, Sally Mann, and David Hamilton photography.

These publications contain numerous images that many, including experts on child sexual exploitation, consider akin to child pornography, or at the minimum, content that eroticizes children.

These same publications are replete with pictures of nude prepubescent and adolescent children—many of which display their pubic areas or genitals. These are not images reminiscent of a family photo album of children at bath time but are haunting displays of provocative child nudity.

While these publications (and films) are widely available and have been in circulation for many years, such material is unfit for sale by any reputable retailer. Retailers like Amazon should strive to prevent the dissemination of material that gratifies perverse sexual interest in children, not cater to it.

Last year, Walmart.com was also selling Jock Sturges publications, but upon receiving a letter on the matter from us, took swift action and removed his books from their online store within 24 hours – you can thank Walmart for removing these publications here.

We ask that Amazon act responsibly and do the same.

  • Amazon’s Kindle

While Amazon took strict measures to rid this popular e-book device of hardcore pornography and explicit erotica in previous years, thousands of self-published pornographic books are for sale and even included for free in the monthly subscription service KindleUnlimited.

Searches by NCOSE yielded dozens of these books included in completely unrelated categories and included themes of incest, child and teen, and rape.

If one does an innocent search of “daddy-daughter” they are confronted on multiple pages with incest-themed books—not academic accounts of the harms of parental or guardian sexual abuse of children—but fictional tales normalizing and romanticizing parental/relative sexual abuse

A search conducted by NCOSE of “Teen Books” yielded both e-books for a toddler, as well as pornography. Unfortunately, a 12-year-old girl did this same search.

While Amazon often has strong written policies against this kind of material, it appears that their focus is solely on growing the business, and not maintaining the values they set forth from the beginning.

 


[1]Maras, Marie-Helen & Shapiro, Lauren. (2017). Child Sex Dolls and Robots: More Than Just an Uncanny Valley. Journal of Internet Law.

Proof

WARNING: The pornographic images taken from Amazon have been blurred, but are still suggestive. There is also graphic text descriptions shown in these sections. POSSIBLE TRIGGER.



Take Action

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Email Amazon Executives to Improve Amazon Studio Content and Parental Controls

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Tell Amazon: No More Erotic Child Nudity and Sex Trafficking “How To” Books

Email Amazon Executives To Remove Sex Dolls

Thank Walmart For Removing Exploitive Photography Books

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Personal stories help elected and business leaders to see the grave harm associated with this material and can be very helpful in getting them to change their policies. All will be shared anonymously. Please email your story to public@ncose.com.

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Updates

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