Spotlight

Ethical Porn and Where to Find It

By Georgia Meropoulos
Image credit: Dainis Graveris via Unsplash

As long as porn has existed (which is probably almost as long as human existence), straight male pleasure has been taken care of. This has often happened at the expense of women’s own pleasure and safety. In the United Kingdom, only 28% of visitors to PornHub- the internet’s most popular pornsite- are women. This is not due to a lack of interest in masturbation; we know that women can and do enjoy masturbation just as much as men. It is most likely due to PornHub’s porn practices. From ‘revenge porn’ to underage actors to non-consent; PornHub and many similar sites publish porn that hurts women and other minority groups for the pleasure of cis men. Georgia Meropoulos writes about ethical porn- porn that puts us first- and where to find it.

CHEEX

Exploring sexual desires free from shame and taboo’

I first stumbled across this platform, scrolling through Instagram stories late one night, and saw one of the many body positivity artists I follow who goes by the name of @venuslibido recommended the German based website ‘CHEEX’. Curious, I swiped up on the link and found what looked like a sophisticated magazine rather than crude images pop up in my face making me cringe on ‘mainstream’ pornography sites, reminding myself of the shocked facial expressions I would pull as a young teenage girl. As I grew older, like many others, I grew desensitized, familiar with the fact that I might come across something disturbing or uncomfortable as the website loads. This platform ensures this does not happen again. CHEEX makes a promise to its users of being ‘sex- positive, contemporary and responsible’. Of course, this is at a fee of £8 a month. But it seems, you have to pay for security and quality in pornography right now.

As a young woman it is refreshing to see women’s needs being met to the same level as men. The way history has unfolded men’s pleasure has been put before women’s, even before the evolution of internet pornography and Pornhub. CHEEX keywords are diverse, fun and consensual and their content is not limited in any way. From categories ranging from ‘group’ to ‘kinky’ this platform has something for everyone, and all actors are consenting adults; something that can sometimes come into question if using ‘Pornhub’ or ‘X videos’. As well as variety, CHEEX also has a ‘Learn’ section where it aims to break taboos, updated monthly. This month focuses on social media giants such as Facebook and Instagram and their relationship with sex workers relating to censorship. Even more topical, ‘Lockdown Lust and Pandemic Fantasy’ can be found for fun reading. Contemporary and responsible is what CHEEX aims for and I think achieves this well.

While researching this website, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview the founders of Cheex, Denise and Max, who went from friends to business partners. With Cheex only coming to fruition 20 months ago, speaking to Denise and Max showed me just how much this start- up company has achieved while standing by its values.

My first question- What do you think sets Cheex aside from other ‘ethical’ porn sites and what were your 3 main aims in creating Cheex?
  • A brand for female pleasure
  • Safe and consensual
  • Easy access to sexy stimulation

It is important to note that when creating Cheex that there was not a single well-known brand specifically for female pleasure. In terms of target audiences, our ‘competitors’ leave half the target group behind, which is of course women. We wanted to change the perspective that porn was mostly orchestrated by men, for men. More than often, many of the sites cannot guarantee that 100% of the content is safe and consensual, but with CHEEX we work closely with all our actors to provide safe and sexy content.

Why do you think it is important for people to pay to receive ethical porn?

The only difference between free porn sites is that they receive their income through advertising while at CHEEX we did not want to be another one of these generic sites with ‘pop ups’. This also means we own 100% of the rights to our content.

While speaking to Denise and Max we also discussed the stigma of how people generally think these days it is weird to pay for porn when you can get access to it for free. We all agreed that this had contributed to perpetuating harmful images of sex and sexuality into people’s personal lives or young people who are having sexual experiences for the first time. The easiness of porn just being a few clicks away no matter your age and with lack of censorship has undeniably been a contribution to potentially harmful attitudes people have towards sex today.

Do you consider platforms such as ‘Onlyfans’ as ethical?

Generally, platforms such as OnlyFans are better than other porn websites as the profits people make are given to them, minus the fee OnlyFans take. We know that the content creators are getting paid fairly. However, in terms of youth protection there is no special efforts made to protect young people not being able to download this app. Further protection in young people in the app stores I think is needed.

After this interview, I read about how people in the public eye were subject to ‘revenge porn’ on OnlyFans and the lack of action taken by OnlyFans to take this content down. This does call into question how ethical OnlyFans really is and the danger of people putting any content up they like of other people and taking a profit from it. Furthermore, censorship must be taken so OnlyFans does not turn into another mainstream porn site where anyone is allowed to upload anything.

Why do you think it is important ethical porn exists?

Mainly, to show accurately how it is in real life and to promote diversity. Our aim to turn people away from the narrow-minded view that sex is centred around the man. This type of porn exists heavily in our world and always has, so we believe that the female audience should have their own place too.

‘We are… sex- positive, contemporary and responsible’

What would you say to young people about watching ethical porn as opposed to ‘normal porn’?

When it comes to attracting young people as part of our target audience, we think it is super important to talk about sexuality with no taboos, which is what we hope CHEEX provides as we do not just provide pornography but a ‘learn’ section as well. Secondly, pornography is not to replace/ change real sexual life, it is supposed to inspire you in your imagination. As a young person, it is important to grow up with realistic expectations, however, sadly this is not the case for the majority for young people in society since the age of internet porn. Porn does not just have the responsibility of showing these realistic expectations but also making people think about their sexuality.

Bellesa

‘At Bellesa, we believe that sexuality on the internet should depict women as we truly are- as subjects of pleasure, not objects of conquest.’

Up until recently Bellesa was completely unknown to me, but discovering this platform was an incredibly positive thing to see as a young woman. It is primarily the largest adult entertainment site for women; however, I would describe it as much more than this. Bellesa is a much larger platform than Cheex with its own range of sex toys (Bellesa Boutique), erotica books, sections on culture and health and even their own merchandise which has been endorsed from the likes of Cardi B.

When researching this site, I found the one responsible who was Michelle Shnaidman a graduate from McGill University in Canada. Her aim for this website was one thing: to empower women to celebrate their sexuality. I think she has not only achieved this, but gone above and beyond to make ‘ethical’ porn more accessible for women. If I could put it simply, it is a site that PornHub should be.

As well as its broad range of adult content, this month’s culture section titles, ‘Reproductive Rights and Abortion: Amy Coney Barrett vs Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A topical discussion on how reproductive rights is under threat in the US since the death of Supreme Court judge Ruth Ginsburg, with the Trump administration holding a majority now with Amy Coney Barrett as a conservative judge. This has a profound impact, putting political and women’s rights topics on an adult website.

Not only is there culture but sex education. It is naïve to say that many people do not or should not get their sex education from porn because the reality is that many people have, and will. This months’ articles were on: ‘4 ways to let go and learn to enjoy receiving oral sex’ and ‘A guide on how to squirt, the secret to female ejaculation’. Female ejaculation especially is taboo, and something that is expected or exaggerated in ‘mainstream’ pornography, Bellesa seeks to explain the reality of it.

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