Visa, a credit card network with one of the largest market shares, is partnering with the pornography industry by processing payments for pornography with themes of sexual violence, racism, incest, and the fetishization of minors.
By doing so, Visa is supporting and normalizing the pornography industry, despite its sexually exploitive nature including harm to performers, sex trafficking victims, and even large scale public health.
The pornography industry is not “just another industry.”
The pornography industry has actively lobbied against protections meant to ensure children and minors are not used in mainstream pornography. It has also lobbied against common-sense protections to performers’ physical and sexual health, despite the fact that research has found that pornography performers have a ‘high burden’ of sexually transmitted disease. This burden includes and extends well beyond the risk of HIV infection.
Mainstream pornography websites like PornHub, which Visa partners with, have even been caught hosting videos of sex-trafficked women and of a child being sexually abused. Is this the kind of content Visa is willing to endorse?
Research is also clear that the pornography industry inflicts both physical and mental trauma on performers.
A 2011 study found, “Female adult film performers have significantly worse mental health and higher rates of depression than other California women of similar ages.”
Another study reported that pornography performers experience physical trauma on the film set, often leave the industry with financial insecurity and mental health problems, and also experience health risks that aren’t limited to sexually transmitted diseases.
Some high-profile pornography producers have even been accused of sex trafficking performers.
More studies reveal that pornography portrays and normalizes sexual violence: (click below to read the research.)
A content analysis of 172 videos from the website PornHub examined the influence of age (teenage performer vs. adult performer) on aggression and pleasure depicted in popular heterosexual pornographic videos uploaded to the site between the years 2000 and 2016. One hundred and seventeen videos exhibited “adult” performers, 55 “teenage” performers. To determine “age,” researchers used a variety of cues including 1) performers’ self-declaration of their age, 2) titles of the videos, 3) the categories in which videos were classified, and 4) tags ascribed to each video. The findings were as follows:
- 43% of videos included what the researchers categorized as “visible aggression” and 15% included “non-consensual aggression.”
- Teenagers were more likely to experience particular forms of aggression and degrading or risky sex acts. Specifically, teenagers were more than twice as likely as adults (21.8 vs 9.4%) to be in videos featuring anal penetration, and about five times more likely (12.7 vs. 2.5%) to be in videos featuring forceful anal penetration with an apparent intent to cause pain. Yet, when broadly considering aggression in pornography, teenagers were subject to similar levels of aggression experienced by older performers.
- Teenagers were also more likely to be in pornography in which the male ejaculated in their mouth or on their face than adults (65.4 vs. 45.3%). o 90% of teenage females in videos containing visible aggression displayed pleasure, compare to 54% when visible aggression was not present.
- 40% of teenagers displayed sexual climax in videos containing aggression, compared to 8.5% when visible aggression was not present.
- Teenagers were significantly more likely to display pleasure in videos that included spanking, forced vaginal or anal penetration, and forced gagging than in videos that did not include these acts.
- Females of all ages were more likely to display pleasure in videos featuring physical aggression than those that did not.
In response to these findings, the researcher noted that the prevalence of aggressive and demeaning acts in videos featuring teenagers, “may signal to viewers of all ages that these acts are not only normative and legitimate but perhaps even expected,” thus creating social pressure on both young women and men to re-enact them with their sexual partners. Of further concern, it was noted that “the high prevalence of unprotected anal intercourse in such videos may lead female teenagers to engage more frequently in unprotected anal sex,” thus increasing their risk for various STDs. (1)
In a separate content analysis of free, Internet pornography, researchers found that nearly half of all videos in which two or more persons were present ended with the act of ejaculation on the face or mouth of a female by one or more males. (2)
A 2010 analysis of the 50 most popular pornographic videos (those bought and rented most often) found that 88% of scenes contained physical violence, and 49% contained verbal aggression.16 Eighty-seven percent of aggressive acts were perpetrated against women, and 95% of their responses were either neutral or expressions of pleasure. (3)
(1) Eran Shor, “Age, Aggression, and Pleasure in Popular Online Pornographic Videos,” Violence Against Women (2018): 1‒19, doi: 10.1177/1077801218804101. Of note, videos including more than two participants were not included in the analysis.
(2) Stacy Gorman, Elizabeth Monk-Turner, and Jennifer N. Fish, “Free Adult Internet Web Sites: How Prevalent Are Degrading Acts?” Gender Issues 27, no. 3–4 (2010): 131–45, doi:10.1007/s12147-010-9095-7.
(3) Ana J. Bridges, Robert Wosnitzer, Erica Scharrer, Chyng Sun, and Rachael Liberman, “Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best-Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update,” Violence against Women 16, no. 10 (2010): 1065–1085.
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