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November 3, 2023

Pornography Is Intrinsically Tied to Grooming and Trafficking

Procurers and sex traffickers in the industry have more access to vulnerable men, women, and children than ever before.

Porn is not freedom, and it’s not sexual liberation. It is an exploitative business that preys on the weak and vulnerable. The industry is rife with sex trafficking. It targets not only adults but increasingly children as well. This exploitation problem has been expedited with the advent of the Internet and the lack of tools parents have to protect their children from exposure to pornographic content or sex traffickers online.

In Washington, DC, there was a congressional briefing on October 26 whose stated goals were to start the conversation on how to implement policy to prevent sexual exploitation. Several survivors shared their stories, including Tanya Gould, who was groomed for months by her trafficker and sold for 18 months post-high school in Virginia.

Gould made many powerful statements, but one in particular stood out. She said: “Imagine being a child in America, growing up, and singing the songs of freedom in school, but have no one fighting for them. But instead are silent because minors don’t contribute financially, and because of that, they have no real value and no real voice.”

As an adult, Gould has gone on to head the Anti-Human Trafficking Office for Virginia’s attorney general so that no other child goes through what she endured.

Another survivor, Aaron Crowley, shared that he was exposed to porn at the age of nine. The violence of the images led him to believe that all such interactions were conducted that way. So convinced was he that sex and violence were synonymous that when he was gang-raped by adult men, he didn’t even consider it rape, just sex. Those evil men videoed the assault and posted it online. And from that moment on, Crowley decided that if porn videos were going to be out on the Internet featuring him, he should be paid for it. Crowley was groomed from the age of nine to believe porn was an accurate depiction of healthy sexual intimacy, and that misconception led him to a really risky and exploitative rabbit hole.

Crowley testified: “So, whenever I was given the opportunity to do mainstream porn, I was already groomed to say ‘Yes.’ And in order to get booked on a shoot, the talent scout required me to have sex with him any time he wanted. In any other business, that would be considered sexual assault. But when the business is sex, how do you draw the line between what is ‘just business’ and what is exploitation?”

Crowley’s experience of sexual coercion is similar to other survivors’ stories. When consent is the only bar that pornographers need to obtain, manipulation and coercion are often employed.

There is no such thing as ethical porn; someone is always being used. As much as some try to paint pornography as fulfilling work, it’s not. It’s little better than slavery at the end of the day, and trafficking is rampant. Christian podcaster Allie Beth Stuckey did an interview with Benji Nolot on this particular topic. Nolot is the founder and CEO of the ministry Exodus Cry, which helps fight against the sexual trafficking of men, women, and children around the world and also provides survivors with tools and support after they are freed from the industry.

In the podcast, Nolot explains that there are several ways porn is connected to trafficking. Coercion, dehumanization of the victims, and consent are the only elements that need to be reached. With these elements at play, no wonder the industry is a byproduct of all that is horrid.

Going back to the congressional briefing, the survivors’ testimonies were part of a larger goal: getting Congress to pass legislation to not only hold websites like Google, Instagram, and others accountable for protecting minors from porn and its predatory minions but to provide parents with recourse to protect their children online. The two bills that would potentially help are the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act and the Kids Online Safety Act. Groups that testified before Congress are hopeful that lawmakers are motivated to act on their behalf to finally help protect the vulnerable in our society.

Porn is insidious, and it is an industry that should be irradiated entirely. Its fruits are misery, exploitation, slavery, and psychological damage to both the viewer and the “performer.” Congress needs to go even further, but if this is the start toward ending this evil, then we’ll take it.

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