Claire Lampen

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.

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 among you who want to maintain your masturbation habits but want to be sure the performers you watch are treated fairly, consider 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.”


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. 

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:

1. Bright Desire

2. Dreams of Spanking

3. Pink & White Productions

4. X Confessions

5. Make Love not Porn