Unpopular Opinion: Why You Should Pay For Your Porn

Porn has survived every decade, living on in magazines, videos, your grandad’s art collection, the shady erotica shown in an underground cinema, and finally, online. I spoke to Ruby Rare, sex educator and author, about why it might be time to spend money on self-pleasure.

In not the most poetic terms, 2020 was a shit show. By the second lockdown, life had become so underwhelming that I was able to cum in a few minutes just by flicking through different thumbnails of Porn Hub videos on the main screen.

There was no effort and certainly no creativity when searching through the niche (and frankly outdated) categories to find just the right scene to make me forget I was aggressively playing with myself in my childhood home.

Bigger than the issue of one’s porn fatigue, was the sudden realisation that for two decades I have been accessing free porn and had never questioned this fact. Not to be that soft boi, but somewhere along the way, a conscience grew.

The porn landscape hasn’t been subject to much drastic change over the years. Type in any sexual buzzword on Google and the usual suspects will soon pop up: YouPorn, Brazzers, X Hamster. These sites hold a powerful monopoly over the sex industry and notably, are all owned by Mind Geek, a company maintained by businessman Bernard Bergelmar.

Mind Geek might not be a household name known to many, but in 2018 alone, the Luxembourg-registered group made just over $460 million, mainly from Porn Hub. In a dire comparison, a study by Beyond the Gaze found that sex workers in the UK are earning less than £20,000 a year- way below the national average.

So why aren’t sex workers getting a slice of the pie?

Ruby Rare says: “the porn industry thrives on exploitative greed”. 

“What you view on Porn Hub are usually from stolen clips, uploaded and re-shared without the performers involved ever even knowing. It’s a mass version of non-consensual sex and we all watch it because it’s really easy to access,” she explains.

If us viewers know we’re watching dodgy dealings, then why has the industry not felt pressured to own up? Better yet, why do we continue to indulge our less than ethical viewing habits?

Free illegal streaming is really not a ground-breaking concept. Before Netflix and Spotify took paying for content mainstream, Putlocker and Limewire were centre stage, a quick fix. With three million households now paying for Netflix alone, a culture of investing financially in higher quality content doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

Would it be a sweeping statement to say that paying for porn would force us to respect sex workers? Ruby thinks it’s a clear yes.

“If you’re financially able to support adult performers, it’s going to feel empowering. It’s like giving the middle finger to any shame we’ve inherited around self-pleasure and sexuality. When I pay, it’s a big fuck you to anyone telling me that the industry should be kept a dirty secret. I’m doing things differently, and that’s gratifying”.

Portrait coloured photography of Ruby Rare. She is sat down, her body facing to the left of the photo. She has her head tilted and looking towards the camera. She is wearing a bold pink lipstick and smiling. She has bright pink curly hair that reaches her shoulders and has the left handside of her hair slightly pinned back. She is wearing a purple satin long sleeved dress which is a v neck.. Her arms are placed across her legs, which are also crossed. She has bright pink nail varnish on. The background is a pastel blue.

For Ruby, a go-to is Pink Label TV, an indie hub for adult filmmakers. The biggest turn on about this platform isn’t GUSH, Kate Sinclair’s documentary on squirting, and not even Putting the O in Voting by producers Favianna, Lotus Lain and Gordon B, it’s the unspoken autonomy that every contributor is granted.

A precedent was set for the new wave of normalised subscription service pornography when it was established in 2013. Three years later came the boom of Only Fans, further pushing contributors to reclaim power over their bodies and their income.

Yes, there was a smattering of privileged celebs (here’s looking at you Bella Thorne) who failed to read the room and misused the site, but all in all, this kind of platform exuded big dick energy.

As for the future of porn, Ruby says, “It’s time to put our money where our mouth is so we can continue to support the performers working in the oldest job in existence”. And what could be sexier and more badass than this?

Becoming a porn activist from your bedroom and joining the independent porn revolution is simple. 

XConfessions, a project started in 2013 by erotic filmaker Ericka Lust, delivers ‘weekly porn shorts based on real confessions by real people’. 

The fun part, aside from getting your rocks off, is being able to submit your own secrets and watch them turn into an on-screen fantasy. 

There’s also a number of categories dedicated to the trans, bisexual, lesbian and gay community, not that you needed an excuse to watch a great pegging scene.

For the artsy among us, Frolic Me sensually tells the story of couples, men and women through HD cinematic images and videos. 

Investing either £4.83 monthly, or £38.66 annually, gets you access into porn that has all genders in mind. No ridiculous DJ fingering movements here.

If your ‘sexy-time’ playlist just isn’t cutting it anymore and you’re spending more time picking the right song than orgasming, Dipsea is the holy trinity of subscriptions.

Founded by Gina and Faye, this subscription boasts short and seductive audio clips to get your juices flowing (no pun intended) and better yet, this start-up keeps feminism and sex-positivity in mind, celebrating consensual pleasure in all its glory.

With all of these accessible at the click of a button, it’s hard to turn down something that could be such a turn on. Free porn- you’re so 2020.

Ruby Rare’s book ‘Sex Ed. A Guide for Adults’ is still available at Waterstones. There are some signed copies available and the regular hardback is currently on sale.

You can also follow her on instagram: @rubyrare 


Larnie H Rose

She / Her

Written by Larnie H Rose

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