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

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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