There are many myths about porn having a negative impact on consumers and on society, similarly to the Victorian era when
masturbation was believed to be both a moral and physical evil.
There is a problem with porn – and the problem is that people don’t talk openly about porn and sex. As a result, porn becomes an easy scapegoat, publicly demonized and blamed for all societal problems. Porn is not the cause for misogyny or racism. Instead, it often reproduces sexism and racism as it mirrors society. By blaming porn as the source of these systemic issues, we take away the focus from many other areas of society where this scrutiny is really needed.
Even though we’ve witnessed a shift in the last decade, sexuality remains a stigmatized topic in society. Sex education resources are limited and people are prevented from exploring their sexuality in a healthy way due to ignorance, shame and silence. Porn, a medium grounded firmly in fantasy, is not intended to take the place of a comprehensive and inclusive sex education. If people “learn” about sex from porn, the unfortunate reality is because they’re not learning about it elsewhere. We believe that the lack of communication around sex and sexuality is what creates misconceptions about sex, and that shame and contempt is what pushes people to lose their integrity. An open, inclusive, sex-positive, shame- and blame-free approach to sexuality would be the first step to establish a consent culture and to help people nurture a healthy relationship to sex and porn.
We live in sexist societies where violence against women is normalized on many levels, starting with children’s education, when girls are told to be careful outside and boys are rewarded for performing aggressively. Violence against women is systemic and is rooted in our cultures, and it will require a long process of re-educating and changing existing power dynamics to eradicate it.
Since the 1970s, there have been instances and movements that claim that porn is the source of the problem. However, there is no proof that men who consume porn commit more violent crimes against women, and since the appearance of free porn on the internet and the increase in consumption, there has not been an increase in violence nor in sexualized violence towards women.
The idea that porn is harmful to women might instead come from the internalized belief that women are always victims when it comes to sex, instead of self-actualized and empowered sexual beings.
We believe the term “porn addiction” is problematic and biased. Yes, people can form an unhealthy relationship with porn just like with any other medium, food, etc. Compulsive behaviour is different from addiction, and it’s pseudo-scientific to speak of addiction in the case of watching porn and believe it’s different than, say, compulsively watching Netflix. The way the media uses the term in an inflatmmatory way generates a moral panic and induces shame. The porn habits of most people that claim to be porn addicts do not differ greatly from the average, and the discomfort is rather linked to religious and moral beliefs, and subsequent feelings of guilt.
Nobody should be forced to watch sexually explicit images against their consent. Children should be prevented from watching hardcore porn, exactly as they should be prevented from watching horror or other violent films that are not age-appropriate. Nowadays there are parental blocks for all devices and most porn companies voluntarily contribute to being filtered out by such controls. At some point, children become curious and might search for pornographic content or be confronted with it by other children. It is crucial that we inform and educate children and young people about pornography so that they are equipped to understand and process what they see. The problem here is once again communication and stigma, rather than the porn content itself. Watching sexual practices on film at an early age is not as damaging to a person’s sexual health as a lack of information around sexuality.
There is a popular misconception that performers in porn, mostly women, are coerced and mistreated. This is not the case for the majority of the industry, and it is ridiculous to believe it is when most porn companies operate legally on a large scale and abide by existing regulations.
The stigma against the porn industry can lead to a lack of regulations in certain areas and that can create unsafe working environments, just like in any other industry. It is important to legalize and decriminalize all kinds of sex work to provide its workers with the necessary legal support to establish safe standards throughout all the different industry branches.
However, the idea of porn being inherently abusive towards women is rooted in the conception of women being always victims; it victimizes, infantilizes and silences women, policing their bodies and even their sexual preferences. The stigma against porn performers and sex workers contributes to upholding structures where people can perpetuate harm, as well as endangering the wellbeing of workers and damaging their mental health.
Most of the pornographic content that showcases kink puts little to no effort into creating films that have any artistic or cinematic aspirations. HardWerk is born from a passion for both hardcore porn and cinema, and the belief that both can be conceived together (not to mention that gangbangs can be feminist and hot).
Gangangs are broadly understood to consist of a group of men using a woman for their sexual pleasure. We want to reclaim the gangbang as a consensual, sexually empowering practice for its dynamic that honours orgiastic fantasies. We explore the synergies a gangbang can produce with careful casting in order to create powerful constellations of people, and we move decidedly away from heteronormative constrictions.
HardWerk films are unique by combining aesthetics from classical film and pop culture with hardcore sexual practices and depictions. We aim to celebrate and enjoy kink from a place of unequivocal consent, and to represent a diversity of bodies, sexualities, preferences and choices.
People use the term “mainstream porn” and have a concrete idea of it being a homogenous, clearly defined genre that showcases only a very limiting approach to sexuality, reproducing sexist and racist stereotypes. Whereas that definition does apply for certain products and productions, generalizing it to encompass the whole commercial porn industry is inaccurate. Mainstream pornography offers a more diverse representation of bodies and sexualities than any other mainstream media industry (for example, Hollywood), and it encompasses many different genres. HardWerk creates and establishes a genre within mainstream porn: we are proud of what we do and how we do it and we stand in solidarity with all porn performers and sex workers.
There is no hard evidence for a causal link between violence in film and real-world aggression. There are serious fundamental causes that lead to violence – factors such as sexism, racism and adverse social environments. We strongly believe those causes must be addressed on a societal as well as personal level, and focusing on films as a cause only serves to distracts from the pressing need to deal with the real issues.
All our films are marked with content information so that viewers can make an informed decision before watching. The actions depicted in the films are chosen freely by the performers and negotiated in advance. They are fantasies and never meant to promote or even represent real-world violence.
There’s a tendency to call porn that is sexually “soft” (think sex that is always embedded in a story with soft lighting, pastel colours, gentle caresses and other “feminine” tropes) feminist, without actually delving deeper into what feminism means. Feminism is a political movement that fights for the equality of the genders. Intersectional feminism acknowledges the different axes of discrimination and analyses systems of oppression. Sexuality is a realm of human experience and identity that has long been repressed as a mechanism of control and discrimination. In a sex-negative society where sex is still taboo, pornography has the potential for sexual liberation by allowing for the representation and celebration of bodies, sexualities and desires – not just the pretty and the pastel but across a wide spectrum. In this way, it can be a great tool for feminist activism, validating and empowering sexual expression that doesn’t have to fit a mould. Sexuality is complex and there are no right or wrong sexual practices as long as they are negotiated between consenting adults. It should be one of the goals of feminist liberation that every woman is allowed and encouraged to explore and enjoy her sexuality as she desires.