The news that Bruce Springsteen cancelled a show in North Carolina this week due to HB2, which has been called an “anti-LGBT bill,” has been pretty widely celebrated. And, fair enough — while the law is being referred to by the media, as well as many of the celebrities speaking out against it, as a “bathroom bill” (HB2 requires that people use bathrooms according to their biological sex), it’s actually about much more than who may or may not use which bathroom. The Charlotte Observer explains:
“The law limits how people pursue claims of discrimination because of race, religion, color, national origin, biological sex or handicap in state courts. The law also means a city or county cannot set a minimum wage standard for private employers.”
What this means is that HB2 prevents workers in North Carolina from suing under state anti-discrimination law — all workers, not just gay or trans people.
Nina Martin at ProPublica spoke with Erika Wilson, a law professor at the University of North Carolina and co-director of a legal clinic for low-income plaintiffs with job and housing discrimination claims, who said, “The LGBT issues were a Trojan horse.” Wilson explained that the part of the law that would prevent people who were fired because of their gender, race, or religion from suing under state law hasn’t received much attention because “people were so caught up in [the LGBT] part of the law that this snuck under the radar.”
Celebrity-led oversimplifications aside, the law is not a good one. So what’s the problem?
Well, it’s not just celebrities like Springsteen, Bryan Adams, and Ringo Starr who are now boycotting North Carolina, but a porn company called xHamster, who proudly announced they would be blocking any computer in the state from accessing their videos.
In an official statement, xHamster spokesman, Mike Kulich, told The Huffington Post, “We have spent the last 50 years fighting for equality for everyone and these laws are discriminatory which xHamster does not tolerate.”
This news was jovially shared by liberal media pundits like Rachel Maddow and Trevor Noah, as well as by women’s sites like Broadly.
How this porn company just ejaculated justice all over an anti-trans law https://t.co/hq6YGhGt0k pic.twitter.com/OoCJU2ozY0
— Broadly (@broadly) April 14, 2016
Not only that, but the site has added a music festival to their campaign, asking that musicians like Springsteen and Adams perform at what xHamster is calling “Pornopalooza,” which, if it happens, would donate all proceeds to LGBT charities.
We want to throw #Pornapalooza starting @springsteen @bryanadams.All proceeds go to #lgbt charities! #xhamster pic.twitter.com/1DPki8vc4g
— xHamster (@xhamstercom) April 13, 2016
Broadly’s writing, “as marketers in sexuality-related content, they believe in the rights of all people, regardless of who they love or who they are, including members of the LGBT community.” In a statement, the porn company told Tourjee:contacted xHamster about their decision,
“Naturally, we are not aimed at banning the access to xHamster in North Carolinians forever… We blacked out the access to our website because we wanted to draw the attention of millions of people to patterns of human rights violations, and we are glad that our voice has been heard across the globe.”
(Since this announcement, the porn site has backtracked a little, and now will allow consumers in North Carolina access so long as they click a button that says they don’t support HB2. If you click the “yes” button you are then blocked from the site.)
Indeed, this is one of the greatest liberal hypocrisies today: the belief that one can somehow “believe in the rights of all people,” fight for “equality,” and take a stand against discrimination while simultaneously selling and promoting “teen” abuse porn, sexualized racism (the site includes categories like “Japanese,” “Latina,” “Arab,” “Black and Ebony,” etc.), violent gangbangs, incest porn (including titles like “Daddy’s Little Girl”), and rape porn. At no point in history has sexualization and the fetishization of systemic oppression led to “equality.”
The next question Tourjee asks, though, isn’t “Hey, so what about women’s human rights?” Instead, she writes, “Now that even porn companies have joined the resounding chorus of corporate protest against trans prejudice, I had to wonder: How do the men living in North Carolina who sexualize transgender women feel about it all?” Tourjee then seeks out a man who likes to date transwomen (whether or not he is actually a porn consumer is unclear, leaving us to believe that dating transwomen and pornifying them is the same thing…) in order to find out if “men who sexualize transgender women” are “allies to transgender people.” “Brian” told her that he actually supported HB2, adding, “While I am attracted to transwomen and believe in their rights, my broader view of individual rights takes precedence and I don’t disagree with the law for several reasons.” He went on to say that he was worried that “allowing anyone to use either bathroom [means they] could be taken advantage of by creeps, pervs, predators, and bullies.”
One of xHamster’s big points in their laughable attempt at calling out “hypocrisy” was that men in North Carolina were accessing or seeking out “Shemale” and gay porn in droves.
EXCLUSIVE! XHamster Is Blacking Out Access For North Carolina Because Of Anti-LGBT Law!https://t.co/8BacrYvfSt pic.twitter.com/hbUhgQBmzW
— xHamster (@xhamstercom) April 11, 2016
While it should be obvious to any thinking person that what men like to jack off to versus whose rights and humanity they care about are not the same thing, I’m rather amused to see this pointed out so blatantly through these circumstances. The people men sexualize (women and girls, generally, but not always) are not the same people men respect. I mean, obviously. Like, please tell me you don’t believe that watching “Latina Teen Facefucked by Businessmen” will lead men to suddenly care about the racist misogyny leveled at women of colour.
While I don’t expect all people to support all the things, all the time (I’m sure many of you will agree that whataboutery is annoying as hell, although this kind of boycotting seems to lead naturally to questions of “why this and not that”…), I can’t help but wonder if and when men like Michael Moore, Bruce Springsteen, and Bryan Adams will speak out against states that restrict women’s reproductive rights or allow violence against women to go unchecked? I wonder if these men will speak out against companies like xHamster who promote the sexualization and abuse of women and girls, all the while pretending to defend “human rights?”
Since Jan 1 @HillaryClinton has been searched 16,398 times on @xhamstercom #ImInHer #HillaryClinton #Trump2016 pic.twitter.com/tjYixZ9Ay5
— xHamster (@xhamstercom) April 14, 2016
Certainly I would hope these men would boycott any event attached to a company that turns human rights violations like violence against women and sexual abuse into entertainment and profit.
Kulich himself says, “I think that porn has the power to do what Bruce Springsteen can’t.” And I think he’s probably right. So maybe it’s time for all these “freedom fighters” to stop treating pornography as a punchline, and start taking sexualized violence as seriously as they do “bathroom bills.”