Pink & White Studios

There’s nothing sexy about the exploitation of the people helping you get off.

Despite well-known abuses of women in the adult industry, it’s eminently possible to enjoy porn as a feminist—so long as you’re watching ethical porn, or, pornography made with performers’ rights and well-being in mind.

As in any other hulking global industry—porn weighs in at a staggering $97 billion value worldwide—it’s by turns difficult and less lucrative to police the production process. And then, the traditional (read: archaic) values that govern most areas of U.S. media preclude widespread oversight, leaving a lot of latitude for exploitation. For evidence, see the still-standing career enjoyed by male porn actor James Deen, even after the myriad rape and sexual assault allegations his co-stars (including big names like Stoya) levied against him. Or see Ron Jeremy’s inexplicably unsinkable popularity, thanks to years of nonconsensual sexual behavior being swept under the rug.

Even in the middle of a #MeToo moment, the sexual misconduct reports that come out of the porn industry haven’t achieved the same kind of purchase as those coming out of Hollywood, likely because people wrongfully assume that a woman working in sex asks for—even deserves—whatever she’s given, by virtue of showing up to set that day. Attitudes like these mean performers enjoy relatively few protections within the industry.

And yet there is nothing inherently wrong with porn, a perennially popular pastime among the WiFi-connected. According to PornHub’s 2016 year in review data, visitors to the tube site viewed a grand total of 91,980,225,000 videos last year. According to a 2015 survey by Marie Claire, one in three women watches porn every week. For those of you who want to maintain your masturbation habits but want to be sure the performers you watch are treated fairly, consider ethical porn.

What is ethical porn?

Ethical porn also goes by the name “fair trade porn,” or is sometimes simply categorized as “independent porn.” Regardless of the label, the hallmarks of ethical porn remain the same: deference to performers’ preferences and bodily autonomy. Directors don’t force the people who are f*****g onscreen to do anything they don’t want to do. This means ethical porn often steers clear of the heavy-handed narratives typical of mainstream adult content.

Rather than subjecting women to the male gaze—as the videos you find on tube sites so often will, regardless of whether films feature men and women mid-coitus or women having sex with women—ethical porn features performers with a range of figures. Typically, ethical porn sites produce films that place an emphasis on natural bodies (whether in terms of pubic hair, breast size, or cellulite) and natural human interactions. Often enlisting real couples or real-life friends, ethical porn depicts sex as the fun activity it should be, incorporating a range of sexual proclivities and identities. Most importantly, the viewer can tell that the performers are legitimately into the scene.

“Once you’ve seen porn when the people in it are enjoying what they are doing, you will always recognize it,” Mistress Tytania, a London-based dominatrix and purveyor of fetish pornography, told Marie Claire. “You can’t unlearn it.”

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Where to find ethical porn

Consuming products ethically usually doesn’t coincide with consuming products for free. The same goes for ethical pornography. Tube sites will often pirate indie porn and post it on their feeds for free. If you gravitate toward ethical porn because you care that the models are getting paid and treated fairly, then you should probably resign yourself to paying a little money for your pleasure. Here are some of the best ethical porn sites out there that you can subscribe to for a minimal cost. 

1) Bright Desire

A subscription to the feminist porn site Bright Desire, for example, unlocks sex-positive videos of actual couples getting it on in their kitchens, friends with benefits enthusiastically executing acrobatic “bedsports,” and realistic orgy scenes.

ethical porn : bright sesire Bright Desire

2) Dreams of Spanking

Pandora Blake’s Dreams of Spanking features—what else—”high-quality, aesthetically pleasing” content centered around spanking scenarios staged by consenting models. Specifically, if you’re into period dramas, spanking, and British accents, this is your one-stop shop. 

ethical porn sites : dream of spanking Dream of Spanking/Twitter

3) Pink & White Productions

Queer filmmaker Shine Louise Houston runs Pink & White Productions, making gender-inclusive adult movies that respect actors’ desires and boundaries.

best ethical porn sites : pink & white productions Pink & White Productions

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4) XConfessions

Erotic film director Erika Lust sources her film ideas from user-submitted fantasies on XConfessions, bringing them to life in safe sex environments. Lust Cinema films are created with the assurance that performers will be fairly paid, entirely apprised of every performance, and with an eye to diversity and women’s pleasure.

ethical porn : lust films Lust Films/Vimeo

5) Make Love Not Porn

Ethical porn exists, and doing a little digging is worth the effort. Because there’s really nothing sexy about the exploitation of the people who help you get off. Cindy Gallop’s Make Love Not Porn project solicits video submissions from IRL pairs for a reasonable $5 rental rate.

ethical porn sites : make love not porn Make Love Not Porn/YouTube

6) Feminist Porn Awards

The Feminist Porn Awards site doesn’t host porn per se, but it does highlight and award the best of the best fair trade porn on the internet. The annual awards ceremony takes place in April, but you can access lists of nominees and previous years’ winners on the site year round. You can also research specific producers, performers, and studios in the world of ethical porn.

ethical porn : jiz lee Feminist Porn Awards/Facebook

7) Lust Cinema

Another brainchild of sex-positive producer Erika Lust, Lust Cinema is a subscription website for adult cinema produced and directed with a feminist lens. New videos are uploaded to the site every Friday, so members can always look forward to something new. While a majority of the films are under Lust’s name, the site also showcases work from Shine Louis Houston, Candida Royalle, Jincey Lumpkin, Ovidie, Tristan Taormino, and Madison Young, and more than 60 others. A major plus: None of the spammy, distracting, or misleading advertisements you might find on most mainstream porn sites.

ethical porn sites : lust cinema Erika Lust/Instagram

8) Good Dyke Porn

Despite the heavy-handed name and a website that looks fresh out of the ’90s, Good Dyke Porn is often lauded in queer porn circles. It’s a great resource for both ethical and queer porn. The films on Good Dyke Porn are shot DIY style and involve minimal editing for the most authentic viewing experience. Memberships are $10 a month after the first month.—Maya M.

ethical porn : good dyke porn Good Dyke Porn

Still can’t find what you want? Here’s your guide to the best erotica sites for women, the best sex toys of the year, and the best dating apps for everything from hookups to true love. Plus, read more about the true meaning of kink.

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.

Claire Lampen

Claire Lampen

Claire Lampen is a lifestyle reporter who covers sex, gender, and reproductive rights. Formerly a Fulbright fellow, she has published work with Vogue, Gizmodo, Refinery29, Teen Vogue, the BBC, Vice, Marie Claire, and more.

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