Porn won’t save the whales

save the whales_pornhub

Another day, another billion-dollar porn company asking people to jerk off in order to “save an endangered species.”

Not only does Pornhub profit from the sexualization of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault through the pornography they produce, they recently began selling a line of pornified t-shirts in order to “raise awareness” about domestic violence and, a couple of years ago, attempted to profit from the sexualization of breast cancer with a so-called “BooBus.”

This time, the porn giant has found another cause: endangered species. More specifically, “the whales.”

In February, Pornhub announced that they would be partnering with an organization called Moclips Cetalogical Society in order to “save the whales.” The company explained their latest publicity stunt in a statement:

“World Whale Day is February 13th, so Pornhub has pledged to help save the whales by donating one cent for every 2000 videos viewed on the site, from February 8th-29th, to whale conservation efforts. All proceeds will be going to The Moclips Cetological Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the whales through knowledge and conservation, based out of Washington. Sperm whales, humpback whales, we love them all! So please help us save the ocean’s gentle giants.”

They continue: “How can you help? Click on the button below to view some of Porhub’s best videos. The more you watch, the more you’ll be helping Pornhub to save the whales!” Below the battle cry is a button instructing a presumably male audience to “BLOW YOUR LOAD” by entering the site. By writing time, 4,000,281,280 people had done just that, accounting for what Pornhub dubs 4,000,281,280 “spurts.”

Pornhub’s Vice President Corey Price told Buzzfeed, “We took a look at some search terms internally, and blowhole, sperm, and hole seemed to show pretty large positive correlation amongst our viewers, which must also mean that there will be an inherently built-in audience among our fans who will be equally as enthusiastic about saving real blowholes [read: whales] from the many injustices the species faces on a daily basis from commercialized industries that take advantage of their existence.” The irony of that last sentence reveals itself…

Well-intentioned as it may seem, this is the same old misogyny — this time with the added layer of faux-concern about the lives of animals.

Brad Esposito, writing for Buzzfeed, says,“The porn giant hopes it will raise between $20,000 and $30,000 from the program.” All profits, the company says, will be donated to the Moclips Cetological Society. Esposito ends the article by quipping, “So invite your bae over for some Pornhub and krill.” Cute!

The thing is, the Moclips Cetological Society isn’t a real organization. The most cursory investigation of this alleged non-profit shows that the Moclips Cetalogical Society is not reputable or well-established.

For starters, the Moclips Cetological Society website is straight-up dodgy. Dated fonts, strange web design and pictures that seem to go all the way back to the 1970s and 1980s… Unprofessional, at least, if not sketchy.

The website states that the Society “incorporated as an academic and philanthropic organization in 2014 to publish occasional scientific papers and books promoting knowledge of whales, dolphins, and porpoises and advocacy for their conservation for future generations.” Yet, their “Occasional Papers” page only shows a couple of sentences with interesting facts such as “A right whale’s testicles may weigh up to one ton!” and their “Publications” page asks you to click on a link that directs to the Center for Whale Research journal publications. Under “Current Projects” are just two pictures: one of the Center for Whale Research Headquarters and another of a smiling, older, white male at what is described as the Moclips Cetological Society Headquarters, but is actually taken at the address of the person listed as Secretary of the Center for Whale Research.

The man in the picture is Kenneth Balcomb III, a senior scientist at the Center for Whale Research… Not that we would know this by looking at the Moclips Cetological Society website — they forgot to list a single name or any contact information for benevolent porn-users who may want to know more about the organization their wanking was supporting. Turns out Balcomb is the Director and President of the Moclips Cetological Society — the organization whose address is listed as 355 Smuggler’s Cove, Friday Harbor, WA, 98250. He also works as the Executive Director and Principal Investigator of the Center for Whale Research. Their address? 355 Smuggler’s Cove, Friday Harbor, WA, 98250.

Turns out the Moclips Cetological Society is little more than a front operation for the Center for Whale Research.

And what about saving the whales, the purported purpose of the Moclips Cetological Society? Their “Save the Whales” page contains only what appears to be a decades old photograph of unidentified people surrounding a whale at the beach. Scroll down and you’ll find the apparent extent of their advocacy efforts: a photograph of an orca with a pink banner that reads, “SAVE THE ORCA WHALES.” Click on the banner and you’ll be directed to the Center of Whale Research’s Membership page.

The Moclips Cetalogical Society became a registered non-profit in the state of Washington in March 26, 2014 and is listed as having an expiration date of March 31st, 2016, meaning that only a month after Pornhub launched their “Save the Whales” mission, the non-profit heading the efforts will effectively cease to exist. So much for sustainability!

Pretty pictures of whales aside, don’t be fooled: Pornhub doesn’t care about the mammals one bit. Just as the company doesn’t care about ending domestic violence or breast cancer.

In a way, this is a shame because I have no doubt that grassroots conservationist organizations do need the money and resources to fund their operations and staff. However, at the core of any conservationist effort must be the well-being of the species they center in their work. How can Pornhub claim to advocate for animal rights when the company makes millions from animal abuse and exploitation? It may seem efficient for the Center to partner with Pornhub, but how can they disassociate the fact that much of the money that they would receive to protect animal rights would be made from such videos? This, in itself, should give a so-called reputable organization like the Center for Whale Research pause, nevermind the fact that this animal abuse is so often intertwined with violence against women.

Promoting animal abuse, as Pornhub does, in order to support animal rights is, in and of itself, deeply problematic. But the abuse of animals also raises a lot of questions when it comes to violence against women.

According to the Humane Society, the connection between animal sexual abuse or bestiality (a Pornhub favorite) and violence against humans has been established for decades:

“A number of studies have drawn links between the abuse of animals and violence against people. A 2001-2004 study by the Chicago Police Department ‘revealed a startling propensity for offenders charged with crimes against animals to commit other violent offenses toward human victims.’ Of those arrested for animal crimes, 65 per cent had been arrested for battery against another person.”

Furthermore, (and this is something that brings the farcical nature of the Pornhub-Center for Whale Research partnership to a boiling point) animal abuse is considered “one of four predictors of domestic partner violence, according to a six-year study conducted in 11 metropolitan cities.” The study found that, “In both domestic violence and child-abuse situations, abusers may manipulate and control their human victims through threatened or actual violence against family pets.”

This is not surprising to me. As a former shelter advocate, I remember that in some of the shelters for domestic violence that I worked in, inquiries about animal abuse would almost always be connected to the violent, physical abuse of women and children. Pornhub’s efforts to gain positive attention by crying “Save the Whales” is not just an environmental issue, but an anti-violence issue as well.

“We’re not really looking to ‘get’ anything out of it,” Pornhub VP Corey Price told Buzzfeed, “other than to really champion the potential for responsibility and social good that our company is capable of.”

This is nonsense. The campaign is all about soft power: cultural clout and the portrayal of altruistic pursuit for a company and an industry built on the commodification and abuse of the disposable bodies of women and, perniciously, the dehumanization and racialization of further marginalized communities such as people of colour.

On his personal website, Balcomb once wrote: “Don’t F*ck with My Whales! … Enough hypocricy, enough brutality, enough lies and spin-doctoring and official posturing to cause me to speak out about something that I know well — modern man’s assault on the most magnificent creatures of the sea.” How ironic that, as the Director of the Center for Whale Research, Balcomb chose to partner with a company that, given the opportunity and its history of putting profit first, would likely not hesitate to film and disseminate sexual abuse against “his” whales.

Balcomb said in a statement about the campaign, “Given what we have now learned about the sex lives of many species of whales, they would probably chuckle over any eyebrows raised by the humans’ concern for how other people live. Humans did not invent sex.”

Well, humans did not invent violence either. And it is revolting that the Center for Whale Research, Balcomb, and Pornhub would attempt to profit from the combination and glorification of sexualized violence. Or as Pornhub put it, that they seek to profit “from the many injustices the species faces on a daily basis from commercialized industries that take advantage of their existence.”

This partnership is not just fishy, it’s dangerous.

Raquel Rosario Sanchez is an activist, advocate and writer from the Dominican Republic. Her work centers ending violence against women and girls and investigating the demand side of prostitution. Her research looks at review boards and online communities for buyers in the sex industry.

Raquel Rosario Sanchez

Raquel Rosario Sanchez is a writer from the Dominican Republic. Her utmost priority in her work and as a feminist is to end violence against girls and women. Her work has appeared in several print and digital publications both in English and Spanish, including: Feminist Current, El Grillo, La Replica, Tribuna Feminista, El Caribe and La Marea. You can follow her @8rosariosanchez where she rambles about feminism, politics, and poetry.

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  • lk

    Did pornhub get new management over the last few years?
    Because this whole partnering with charities seems to be new for them. It seems like they are working really hard to Position themselves as the good guys (look at our company promoting issues!) and to position people who consume porn as being really good guys (look at how great you guys are for watching our videos, every time you click on it you are helping someone!)..watching porn=saving the world!

    For a wealthy company, they are being pretty stingy with their “charity”….one penny for every 2,000 videos? Why not a penny for every video? If they really want to help whales, couldn’t the vp of the company just
    donate some of his own money and post a link on his site or something?

    From the buzzfeed article, “This initiative allows us to demonstrate our sincerity and integrity when it comes to helping out one of the planet’s most sacred populations of creatures – especially with what’s been going on in the UK as of late with sperm whales washing ashore mysteriously –these animals need help.”

    Lol, if there is one thing that the porn industry prides itself on its sincerity and integrity!

  • melissa

    Urgh…. just clicked on those links.will this crap ever end? almost all liberal media outlets i follow are promoting and normalizing sadistic,abusive, misogynistic garbage these days. honestly, this world is starting to make me sick. how do people see this horrific, harrowing treatment of women in modern pornography and not feel for a second that somethings very off here. I’ve never been one of those “but think of the children!” people, but FFS, how is anyone not remotely bothered by 9 year olds growing up watching the most brutal abuse of women as sex and entertainment? and they’re surprised when women internalize this crap and flock to shit like 50 shades? they claim its a “choice”, a “preference” when this is how they’re introduced to sex and pleasure.,this is how they’re indoctrinated into misogyny since early childhood? how does any of these enlightened liberals not see anything wrong with this? how much worse can porn even get at this point? at what point will they bother addressing this, if ever?

    Boy, am i great-full for FC for for saving my sanity,specially when i have to watch some of my favorite you-tube channels like this bring on men talking about getting off on raping, tying up and hitting women as if its no big deal at all. *vomits*

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7OPc65HdIA

    • Raquel Rosario Sánchez

      Hey Melissa,
      Yes, it’s the way that systems of oppression perpetuate themselves by making it seem as if they are inevitable. I also think it’s interesting how some people assume that calling something a sex fantasy means that it stands alone and it’s off limits for analysis. Fantasies, including sexual fantasies, intersect with a varied number of systems of privilege and oppression.

      Those searches that are mentioned in the article that feature really horrifying content like “Domestic Violence Porn” or “College Sexual Abuse Porn” or “Animal Abuse Porn”, I wouldn’t doubt that they all begin with someone saying “…you know what would be really cool to shoot? You get X animal and then…” That started as a fantasy… which lead to the creation of content… that normalizes systems of oppression and disseminate messed up ideas about consent (for humans) and abuse (for non-human animals).

      “Sex” and our own sex lives are not bubbles disconnected from the larger systems in which they come about, especially when it is systems of privilege which get to dictate what is considered attractive, desirable and an acceptable fantasy. Which probably why you end up with the sexualization of oppression (rape, abuse, violence, domination narratives…) and almost no narratives that sexualize egalitarian attitudes or respect.

      It baffles me that in some people’s minds you can have whatever harrowing situation of exploitation (or anything that social justice is supposed to be against) yet you can put a post-it on it that reads “Sexual fantasy” and somehow everyone is supposed to go “Oh, never mind. It’s cool; it’s just people fantasizing that this could be real thing. No biggie.”

      Socialization 101, people.

      • Sara Marie

        This entire comment needs to be copied and pasted infinitely over the ‘net.

  • Tired feminist

    “Given what we have now learned about the sex lives of many species of whales, they would probably chuckle over any eyebrows raised by the humans’ concern for how other people live.”

    Sure thing, bro. Having concern for other people is soooooo boring.

    • Sara Marie

      Good point. Ocras, specifically, are incredibly empathetic. Some scientists think they have even more empathy than humans (not that that is a hard standard to beat).

  • Samantha

    This is just disgusting bro culture at its absolute worst. Like they could give an actual shit about “saving the whales”, whatever the fuck they think that means. Jesus Christ, I wish they would cease to exist. This just drips with cynicism and snark and doesn’t display an ounce of actual compassion. It’s like Martin Shkreli in website form.

  • Samantha

    *also, could not bear to click on links. Do they have actual animal videos on Pornhub?

    • lk

      I don’t think so, bestiality in porn in the US is illegal and would get them in a ton of trouble.

      The vp is just making some stupid connection between the search terms “blowhole, sperm and hole” and whales.

      • Sara Marie

        It may be “illegal,” but I’m quite sure that anyone with Internet access in the U.S. can access it, even those who aren’t trying to. I’d also be very surprised if bestiality *wasn’t* made in the U.S. Everything else is.

    • Raquel Rosario Sánchez

      Hey Samantha,
      No, none of the links for the problematic content I mentioned will direct you to Pornhub videos. They all open up the Google Search results. In the top results you get what they directly feature and the tabs that they have for particular content such as “Animal Videos” or “Domestic Violence Videos”… I figured that 1. I am not going to give them a single click to support their content and 2. Once you are directed to Google results, then I think it should be up to the reader to decide if they want to watch the videos themselves.

  • Lucia Lola

    Is anyone surprised a pornography site would go below the belt when it comes to marketing? Yes. Pun intended.

  • oneclickboedicea

    Con artists in every inch of their bodies

  • marv

    They must have studied at the PETA School of Sexism and Specieism. Ultimately they hold animals as well as women in contempt to resort to such tactics.

  • Zuzanna Smith

    “We’re not really looking to ‘get’ anything out of it,” Pornhub VP Corey Price told Buzzfeed, “other than to really champion the potential for responsibility and social good that our company is capable of.”
    Go to fucking hell Corey.

  • Sara Marie

    Upon reading the quote from Balcomb defending porn, as well as the fact Pornhub chose this group, which is about to close next month, and seems incredibly “fishy” for numerous other reasons, I’m guessing one of the heads of Pornhub personally knows Balcomb and the idea of a partnerships came up. Who knows what Balcomb will even do with the money.

  • Ang

    I’m disgusted with all porn but I feel Pornhub is the worst!!!! Last week Pornhub released a fb post that tended labeling each U.S. state with its highest search result on their sight. They will do anything to receive publicity. I even saw a post making fun of the viewers stating pornhub ran out of videos and now the viewers need to get a life. It may have been making fun of pornhub but it’s still attention they are getting.