Anti-Porn Profiteering: What They’re Selling

With a sexy fetish boot on the cover that teases you with kinky sex imagery, Gail Dines’ new book “Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality” looks primed to validate everyone’s wildest fears about pornography. Dines prefers to shock people into trusting her opinions and beliefs about porn and human sexual relationships at face value, and so far it seems to be working. Remember: her talk has been required in college feminism courses, and the students are not prepared for the graphic imagery they are shown. And with “Pornland” getting a FOX-style feature in typically respected outlets such as Guardian UK (which is being run without alternate viewpoints), we can expect the political astroturfing she’s laying down to pave the way for plenty of book sales. The Guardian is, in fact, presenting her book as if it is an accurate historical reference. If Dines has a low-scale contract, we can guess that she got between $10-25K as an advance on sales, and when those are met that she’s likely to get between 7-9% in royalties off the sale price for print and 25% for digital sales. Add to that Dines’ $5K a pop speaking fee, and a cottage industry is fluffed.

But traumatizing people into buying your products isn’t just for anti-porn feminists. This year has also seen quite a lot of “female porn addict” hysteria. Organizations such as Dirty Girls Ministries (a female-targeted version of XXX Church profiled May 2010 in the New York Times) offer to heal so-called female porn addicts. It’s interesting to note that like Dirty Girls, the same orgs who are pushing the female porn addiction scare are simultaneously crusading against masturbation. This should raise a lot of red flags at the very least in terms of credibility, especially before such an organization gets prime endorsement in the NYT. But what caught my eye was seeing that Dirty Girls Ministries is making a tidy profit off of the sexual disorder epidemic they’ve helped to manufacture.

Each of the high-profile anti-pornography organizations and pundits are profiteering quite conveniently off of “pornography’s victims.” It’s a never ending revenue source for shame merchants: curing masturbation has been lucrative for centuries as patients can never actually be “cured,” and porn’s so-called victims will exist as long as humans have the capacity for sexual fantasy. So when these victims are viewers that are shamed and exploited by the anti-porn message and shock tactics, it’s worth it for everyone to take a closer look at how anti-porn organizations are profiting from fear.

Make no mistake, I’m a big fan of people making money. It’s business. But what are these FUD-based (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt) businesses, exactly? Most interesting is to see that the sources anti-porn organizations cite as basis for scientific research and proofs for porn’s harms are selling “cures” and other products as well:

Profiteer: Dirty Girls Ministries (dirtygirlsministries.com) / XXX Church (xxxchurch.com)
Products: Their own porn and masturbation cures and products. X3WATCH “accountability software,” Safe Eyes filtering software, X3PURE 30-day online porn addiction cure. Also L.I.F.E. Minsitries’ Workbooks.
FUD: Cures women and men of “porn addiction,” masturbation and erotic fantasy.
Cost: X3WATCH app: (iPhone $1.99/Android $4.99), Safe Eyes ($49), X3PURE ($99 each course). L.I.F.E. Workbook for Women ($24.95), Workbook for Couples ($40.95), Teacher’s Workbook ($68.95).
Additional: Claim for Dirty Girls that “X3 is downloaded 500 times a day” and 100 workshops sold a month.

Profiteer: Candeocan (candeocan.com)
Product: Porn and masturbation cures. Candeocan is the “brain science” website and porn study resource cited by “Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media,” Christian anti-porn organization “Pink Cross Foundation” (Shelley Lubben), “Porn Harms” (Patrick Trueman), and “Stop Porn Culture” (Gail Dines).
FUD: Self-generated papers such as “The Science Behind Pornography Addiction” “The Brain Science Behind Internet Pornography Addiction” “How Adult Pornography Contributes to Sexual Exploitation of Children.” Cures for masturbation and porn addiction.
Cost: $47 a month with 6-month minimum (recommended).
Additional: This year Candeocan launched Candeocan Weight Loss (candeoweightloss.com).

Profiteer: The Social Costs of Pornography (socialcostsofpornography.org)
Product: Manufactured research. Self-published book “The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings and Recommendations” and self-published DVD “The Social Costs of Pornography: A Consultation.”
FUD: Pornography addiction is the same as heroin addiction (actual statement). Anti-porn psychologists.
Cost: Book $5; DVD $9.95.
Additional: Sponsored by The Witherspoon Institute (seminars, courses and publications on faith-based morality, religion and the Constitution) and The Social Trends Institute (STI is a “research center” with publications such as “Embryo: A Defense of Human Life”).

Profiteer: Pink Cross Foundation (thepinkcross.org)
Product: Shelley Lubben’s 501(c)3 nonprofit to save porn performers from their work.
FUD: Premise that porn creates and actively promotes disease, sexual abuse, addiction, secondary effects such as rape.
Cost: 501(c)(3) that solicits donations.
Additional: On examination of Pink Cross’ 2009 tax return, of $125K in donations only $13K went to porn star help and “outreach” (only non-admin category).

Profiteer: Enough Is Enough / Donna Rice Hughes (enough.org)
Product: Instructional materials on saving children from pornography. Internet Safety 101 Program.
FUD: Pornography creation and use creates child rapists and facilitates child predators.
Cost: Internet Safety 101 Program Kit ($39.95), DVD Teaching Series ($19.95), DVD Teaching Series Booklet ($24.95), Facilitator’s Edition ($69.95), Workbook & Resource Guide ($24.95), Booklet Multi-Pack ($29.95)
Additional: Solicits donations to protect the children, solicits vehicle donation, solicits donations from eBay sales.

* “Not For Sale” is listed as an anti-porn and “anti-slavery” organization endorsed by Porn Harms. Not For Sale has a “Freedom Store” where visitors can buy everything from bath and body products to Converse high-tops. Patrick Trueman’s “Porn Harms” website solicits PayPal donations. L.I.F.E. Minsitries “globalized God’s army to battle sexual addiction” with a complete store.

About violet

Violet Blue (tinynibbles.com) is a Forbes "Web Celeb," a high-profile tech personality and one of Wired's "Faces of Innovation." She is regarded as the foremost expert in the field of sex and technology, a sex-positive pundit in mainstream media (MacLife, The Oprah Winfrey Show, others) and is regularly interviewed, quoted and featured prominently by major media outlets. Violet has many award-winning, best selling books; her book The Smart Girl's Guide to Porn is featured on Oprah's website. She was the notorious sex columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. She headlines at conferences ranging from ETech, LeWeb and SXSW: Interactive, to Google Tech Talks at Google, Inc. The London Times named Blue one of the 40 bloggers who really count (2010). Violet Blue is in no way associated with the unauthorized use of her name (or likeness) and registered trademark in pornographic films.
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16 Responses to Anti-Porn Profiteering: What They’re Selling

  1. maymay says:

    This is all very unsurprising. XXXChurch and Dirty Girls Ministries, in particular, have been making the rounds lately.

    Also, I think it’s worth highlighting the fact that Julie Bindel presents her article in the Guardian with an astonishing amount of contextual omissions, which most readers, even after 400+ comments, have not noticed.

  2. violet says:

    Wow Maymay, your comment is a powerful piece of writing I’d love to hand deliver to the Guardian’s editors. I am so disappointed in Guardian for this crazy-biased piece, which is now looking like little more than sensationalistic propaganda. And it’s painfully anti-male. I’ve often loved their writers (Charlie Brooker, etc) and I wanted to be a Guardian writer after leaving the Chronicle — but now I’m not so sure about their standards :(

  3. Good stuff. I’ve noticed that a recent emphasis by the antis has been that if you defend porn or sex workers, you are accused of being an apologist for a “huge corporate industry”. If I’m not mistaken, that’s a framing device Dines has been emphasizing, and her followers have been picking this up big time.

    So I think its perfectly OK to flip that frame on them a bit. They complain about people even peripherally involved with the sex industry being profiteers? OK, lets look at how some people are making their living being *against* porn and the sex industry. Some people make money with best-selling books. (Lookin’ at you Pamela Paul and Ariel Levy!) Some are selling recovery (and have lots to gain by making you think you’re an addict, or abused). Some are getting incredibly lucrative academic careers out of this. (Hi, Kitty MacKinnon!) One woman, Laura Lederer, managed to rise from doing feminist anti-porn organizing in San Francisco in the late ’70s to a cabinet-level position in the W. Bush administration.

    In other words, a pretty lucrative gig for some.

  4. Violet:

    What do you expect from Julie Bindel, though? Of *course* anything she writes is going to be anti-male and anti-sex industry. She’s an old comrade-in-arms of Sheila Jeffreys, after all. The Guardian has a lot of columnists like this, because that’s the way British feminism leans. Cath Elliot has used her column as a pulpit to viciously attack the International Union of Sex Workers. Another columnist, Bidisha, was positively cheerful that the UK anti-extreme porn laws might be used to arrest artists (link).

    To be fair, Thierry Schaffauser of the IUSW is now an occasional columnist on the online version of The Guradian, so they don’t exclude pro-sex writers as part of any overall policy.

  5. I just saw your link to the speakers for hire page (looks like Norma Ramos of CATW is on it too):

    http://www.jodisolomonspeakers.com/women5000.html

    “Women Speakers $5000 and Under”

    I wonder if it would be in too poor of taste to point out that I’ve seen high-end escort sites arranged exactly the same way. :-D

  6. Kevin says:

    The “Online Workshop for Married Men” from XXXChurch is led by one Joe Dallas, a leader in the “ex-gay” movement (see http://www.joedallas.com/about-joe-dallas.cfm). The virulently anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-trans, and heteronormative ideology these snake-oil peddlers are sneaking into your shopping bags needs to be dumped out on the shopping-room floor for all to see.

  7. maymay says:

    What do you expect from Julie Bindel, though? Of *course* anything she writes is going to be anti-male and anti-sex industry. She’s an old comrade-in-arms of Sheila Jeffreys, after all. The Guardian has a lot of columnists like this, because that’s the way British feminism leans.

    So, yes, Iamcuriousblue, but there’s a big difference between an op-ed piece such as those in The Guardian’s “Comment Is Free” section and an out-and-out “news feature” such as Julie Bindel’s just published piece. Or at least, there should be a big damn difference.

    Yes, it may be 2010, and yes, this may be the Internet, but I’ll be genuinely depressed if the standards of journalism have sunk so slow that Bindel’s snake oil counts as “news” in the eyes of an otherwise reputable source like The Guardian. :(

    Wow Maymay, your comment is a powerful piece of writing I’d love to hand deliver to the Guardian’s editors. I am so disappointed in Guardian for this crazy-biased piece

    Frankly, Violet, I’d love to hand-deliver it to Julie Bindel. The fact that I am who I am seems completely irreconcilable to her, to Gail Dines, and to many others who share their views. I’d like the opportunity to shake their hands and maybe make them think twice about what they say.

    Somehow, though, I bet they’ll cry “false consciousness” and insist that I’m wrong about me, because surely they have such a thorough understanding about all the complexities of my reality than I do, and thus are somehow qualified to pass judgement on What It Is That We Do. That kind of agency-stealing is way more horrific and disgusting to me than any porn I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of porn. But maybe not as much as Gail Dines has. ;)

  8. Well, the Dines interview was in the “Life & Style” section rather than “News”. I don’t know what that means in terms of editorial policy. I will say, a big part of The Guardian’s draw is about commentary, and they don’t always separate it from news as well as the should.

    BTW, came across a couple of other articles while I was looking around The Guardian website. The first proclaims the overwhelming success of the Swedish model, based on a new Swedish-government sponsored report:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/02/prostitution-legalise-criminalise-swedish-law

    And an actual story, rather than an editorial, on the .xxx domain:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2010/jul/03/pornography-xxx-apple-ipad

  9. Forgot to mention. The “Swedish model” article is another Bindel piece, at least properly classified under “commentary” by The Grauniad.

  10. Unfortunately, that story on the [dot]xxx domain controversy was preluded by owhat had to be one of the worst commentaries EVER on that subject:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/27/pornography-glastonbury-australia (First segment)

    The original version included the genius thought that the “xxx” was supposed to replace the “www” prefix. When some of the commentators caught that error, the editors corrected and edited the piece…but that explains the depth of sheer stupidity and ignorance built into that “editorial”.

    Anthony

  11. Also, Violet, regarding Shelley Lubben and the Pink Cross Foundation….may I suggest a visit to porn starlet Julie Meadows’ blog?? She has been all over Lubben of late, even covering what she sees as some serious issues with the PCF’s recruitment tactics and their financial chicanery.

    http://www.juliemeadows.com/blog

    Anthony

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