PornHub Hosts Black Lesbian Strip Club Documentary in PR Stunt

PornHub has released its first-ever non-adult film. The pornography site is now hosting Shakedown, a stream-of-consciousness documentary about Black Lesbian strip club culture in Los Angeles. But PornHub’s cynical attempt to cash in on the ‘diversity’ trend is not a cause for celebration.

In the last few years, PornHub has attempted to rehabilitate its toxic image. By cashing in on environmentalism, liberal feminism, and now diversity, the pornography mogul has feigned liberal values.

But litter-free beaches don’t make up for the countless hours of rape footage freely available on PornHub. Fetish-inspired haute couture during New York Fashion Week doesn’t distract from PornHub hosting image-based child sexual abuse. And streaming Shakedown doesn’t change the reality that, on PornHub, lesbian sexuality is reduced to a male fantasy.

Platforming Leilah Weinraub’s documentary is a savvy PR stunt. Pornography thrives on racism, misogyny, and homophobia – but if PornHub features the work of a Black lesbian director then, surely, PornHub can’t be any of those things? Right? Wrong.

The concept of a strip club – and the system of commercial sexual exploitation – is inherently patriarchal, even when you rainbow wash-it. Reducing women to sex objects is one of the worst traditions of heterosexual life. And importing it into our community does lesbians no favors.

Thanks to sites like PornHub, countless straight men see our sexuality first and foremost as a category of pornography. And in pornography – unlike lesbian life – desire between women is performed for a male audience.

To the pornsick mind, we exist as the ultimate conquest. Because we are not sexually available to men, in reality, pornography fosters the fantasy of men gaining sexual access to lesbians – whether as a voyeur or unlikely participant in our sex acts. How we are depicted in pornography has much more to do with men’s imaginations than what takes place in the average lesbian’s bedroom.

In pornography, women do not say ‘no’ to men. Or, if we do, that ‘no’ is made into a ‘yes’ – by seduction or force. Our boundaries, the very parameters of our desires, are always secondary to what men want. The sexual politics of pornography create a vicious cycle.

When Rose Kalemba was raped at the age of 14, the three men who attacked her recorded the assault. “I am of first nations ethnicity,” Rose said. “The attackers were white and the power structure was clear. Some victims were white but many were women of color.”

Months later, while she was browsing MySpace, Rose saw her schoolmates sharing a link. They had tagged her. When she clicked the link, Rose was redirected to PornHub. The pornography giant was hosting footage of her rape. The videos were titled ‘teen crying and getting slapped around’, ‘teen getting destroyed’, and ‘passed out teen’ – which was viewed almost half a million times.

For six months Rose pleaded with PornHub to take down the videos of her rape. They ignored her.

For six months Rose pleaded with PornHub to take down the videos of her rape. They ignored her. Only when Rose created a new email address posing as a lawyer and threatened legal action was the footage finally removed.

Rose’s case is by no means an isolated incident. Dozens of other women have contacted her to say they’ve had similar experiences. And PornHub recently made headlines when a 15-year-old girl missing for over a year was identified and tracked down from sexual images uploaded by her captor. It later emerged that she was featured in 58 videos hosted by PornHub.

PornHub recently made headlines when a 15-year-old girl missing for over a year was identified and tracked down from sexual images uploaded by her captor. It later emerged that she was featured in 58 videos hosted by PornHub.

According to Feminist Current, PornHub gets 115 million visits per day, and 42 billion specific searches annually. Perhaps these millions of people don’t stop to consider the possibility that they could be masturbating over footage of rape and abuse. Perhaps they simply do not care. Hosting Leilah Weinraub’s documentary lets PornHub present a liberal veneer to the world, a disguise that helps all those millions of people shut their eyes to the suffering of women and children.

The question is not whether the documentary makes PornHub ‘feminist’ or ‘LGBT friendly’, but rather how Weinraub could allow her documentary to be used in an attempt to legitimize it. Black lesbians are never going to find meaningful representation on a website where our sexuality is fetishized, our race Othered, and our sex degraded.