Saturday, June 6, 2015


I remember when I first started using hashtags…

I was very unfamiliar with how they worked and thought the idea of putting a random “#” in front of a word or phrase was just plain silly. 
Like, really? Why is this a thing? 
To showcase my dislike (and complete ignorance) I would put long, ridiculous hashtags on EVERYTHING! A favourite of mine was #RealLifeHungerGames in which friends and I would discuss topics and how they relate back to one of our favourite book series. This hashtag was used during text conversations, gmail chat sessions when we should have been working, lengthy emails, and, of course, real life conversations (because who doesn’t let a few “hashtag, basic white girl” or “hashtag, P-T-L” phrases slip out of their mouth every now and then).

As hashtags became more popular (and as I figured out their real purpose and began to understand their significance) I became intrigued with the hashtags people were choosing to use. I found myself both using hashtags when posting photos of my baking adventures on Instagram, and searching hashtags as I would browse social media. Since I was frequently looking up baking related hashtags it was inevitable I would stumble across the raunchy and distasteful #FoodPorn.

#FoodPorn, the second highest search
related to food.
Why, internet?!
This does not make sense! Why are glamorous and enticing images of food being categorized as equal to an industry that ruins the lives of everyone it touches? Is it some kind of metaphor—like the detrimental state of your health after over indulging in sweets (or too much cheesy goodness, or too much carb-filled deliciousness) will actually ruin you and make you suffer? Is it attempting to illustrate how our gluttonous lifestyle can seem ok at first, but then breaks you down the way porn wrecks everyone it collides with? Those are the only connections that actually make sense in my head, but we all know the real reason the general public has chosen to associate #FoodPorn with delicious looking items— It’s not as a warning but as encouragement of the ecstasy which comes from experiencing something almost too good to be true, something you know you shouldn’t.

There are many reasons this hashtag bothers me. One of the biggest reasons is the connection between pornography and human trafficking. The below video really nudged me forward into creating this post. Please watch it-- trust me, it’s worth it.

In my research on how the porn and human trafficking industries are connected, one of the most disgusting quotes I came across is as follows:

"Amateurs come across better on screen. Our customers feel that. Especially by women you can see it. They still feel strong pain." - Carlo Scalisi, Owner of 21 Sexury Video

They still feel strong pain. Why is this ok? Why is this something the general public is ok with watching while ignoring the deeper issues involved in the production of the film?

While researching, the below facts and quotes about the porn industry really stood out to me. Reading these insights, while thinking back to how we associate hashtags like #FoodPorn to mean something amazing, really makes me question the validity and general social acceptance of the hashtag-- and why more people aren't outraged at how porn in it's delusional definition has become so common place.
  1. 88% of scenes in porn films contain acts of physical aggression, and 49% of scenes contain verbal aggression.
  2. A 2005 study claimed that pornographers were travelling to poorer countries where they could use and exploit women and children with fewer risks. Budapest, Hungary was cited as Europe’s capital for the production of porn films because, as one pornography executive put it, Eastern European actors ‘cost less and do more’.
  3. “The Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children both recognize that pornography is an element that adds to the serious problem of sex trafficking. Many traffickers are found with filming equipment and cameras to create and sell pornography”
  4. "[Performers] usually ‘consent’ to the acts only in the degraded and demented sense of the word (common also to the law of rape) in which a person who despairs at stopping what is happening, sees no escape,… is often trying to avoid being beaten or killed, is always economically desperate, acquiesces in being sexually abused for payment, even if, in most instances, it is payment to someone else.”
I’d share more of these horrific tidbits with you, but just reading the quotes from those formerly involved in the pornography industry, and the plain facts my mind doesn't want to accept as true, make my stomach turn and my heart ache. Just watching the documentary "Hot Girls Wanted" on Netflix showcases how demented the pornography industry is-- how those involved feel they don't have control over the situations, how many have been taken advantage of in their past leading them to choose this lifestyle, and how degrading it is to the women involved. Pile on top of that the insane situations or 'fantasies' these people are 'acting' out for the viewers-- I just can't handle it. 

While the above information is great to share to educate how pornography negatively affects the individuals involved, those trafficked into the situations, and those who choose to view porn, why has there been no research done on the connection between the various forms of ‘porn’ society has become numbed to viewing on social media (#FoodPorn #HousePorn, #CarPorn, etc)? I’ve attempted to research the connection, knowing it would present a great viewpoint for this post, and the only information I can find is how #FoodPorn can lead you to make bad choices regarding your own dietary needs… Surprised? Me neither.

One of the most unsettling things about all this is seeing peers in the anti-human trafficking space use the hashtag. What message does this send about our commitment to seeing exploitation come to an end? It’s definitely not a good one.

I’d like you to take a bit of time and read through some of the sources and resources available at the end of this post. Educate yourself on what is really happening in the porn industry and know that any reference society can get away with only encourages the pornography industry to continue what they are doing—exploiting individuals for the viewing pleasure of those whose lives will subsequently be ravaged. It’s an endless cycle and we don’t need things like #FoodPorn to become so common place that porn itself, without a pre-cursor word, becomes accepted until it’s too late—the moment the downward-spiral entangles friends, family and those closest to you.

Sources and resources:
Hot GirlsWanted—Documentary available on Netflix
XXX Church

**Note, as a blog, this is purely my opinion and a presentation of facts. I understand that as pornography becomes more main stream in our culture, my views can be considered 'old school' or 'close minded'. I know magazines and websites promote pornography as a way to have a healthy and happy sex-life, I know pornography is promoted in innocent ways, but the facts I've been presented with portray the realistic, behind-the-scenes portion of the industry many people either don't know or choose to ignore. Let us not turn a blind eye to real issues affecting the people around us.