The Era of Child Pornography: How Our Actions Today Could Affect the Kids of Tomorrow

I make no secret that I got into the anti-pornography game because of the way the industry exploits and forces people to produce content for it. The deeper I get into the trenches, the more infuriating the entire thing gets, because the vast majority of the world seems to still think of the porn industry as harmless even as they get away with atrocities. On August 3rd, 2018, a federal appeals court judge ruled on a case on which the American media, notorious for publicizing even the most trivial things, has been heartbreakingly silent.  The decision declared that the bulk of U.S Code Title 18 Section 2257 was unconstitutional, which, if not appealed, will result in a much looser, often times absent, process that was previously mandated and strictly enforced by 2257. So, what do we lose with 2257 effectively out the window? Only the regulations that ensure actors and actresses in pornography are adults.

This is particularly frustrating when we consider the fact that the law that a porn performer’s age ­must be proven to be at least 18 was the only federal regulation the industry was subject to.[1] Despite the fact that Internet pornography has become a multi-billion-dollar industry in the digital era, no other federal laws have been enacted to regulate it. Now, child pornography still is, and hopefully always will be, illegal in the United States of America. This isn’t a comfort, however, because even prior to this judgment, child pornography has been a problem. In some dark-web corners, it is blatant and abundant. In the more accessible and “legal” cases, it is masked in the seemingly arbitrarily named “teen” category, or sometimes it comes in the form of very realistic CG content, but it is still child porn. So, what happens when the requirement to verify the actresses’ ages is no longer there? When there’s no overarching body to make sure that everyone involved in pornography is a legal adult? Does nothing change? Well, if you’re familiar at all with porn, you know that the stars never use their own name. Their stage names are used by everyone in the porn industry, so if there’s a point in the future where they don’t really have the incentive to keep records, there could be no way to prove an actress is underage. There’d be nothing to tie them to their real identity. If they don’t have to prove their age, there’d be no reason for anyone in the industry to even know their real identity. Sure, obvious children would be safe, but make-up can do a lot for a pre-teen/young teen who looks a bit older than her peers. Back in 2013, a similar case was tried, and the porn industry lost. Their argument then was that porn featuring young women was the exception, not the rule. Anyone with an Internet connection and the desire to peruse porn sites can debunk that claim pretty quickly, and even Pornhub’s end-of-year review (for 2017 and many years back) shows that the “teen” genre of porn is in top ten across the entire world. It is so popular that when averaging the entire global population that watches porn, it consistently makes top ten[2]. But no, it’s not common to see young women in porn.

Regardless of personal stance on pornography, we should all be concerned about this. The pornography industry is going to follow the money, and right now, that money is in youth. It’s evident in the success of eighteen-year-olds who look fifteen, and in the common porn themes meant to make grown women look much younger. 2257 stood between taking an adult and making her look like a young teen and using an actual young teen. Without the law there, what is to stop someone from crossing the line?

 

Questions? Thoughts? Concerns? Let us know!

 

[1] Jones, Rashida. Hot Girls Wanted. Netflix. Directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus. 2015.

[2] “2017 Year In Review”. Pornhub Insights. https://www.pornhub.com/insights/2017-year-in-review. (9/12/18).

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