Hey Lola, I’m interested in social justice and anti-oppression initiatives. The adult entertainment industry presents a unique platform, and I’m wondering if you have any advice for someone looking to “make porn for change.” I am excited to make content that not only celebrates my sexuality but my humanity and inspires others to think differently or even just to be kind. Do you know of anyone who has tried doing this with their brand? Do you have any advice?

Great questions!

It’s worth noting that in the past twenty-five years or so, the entire sex industry has undergone a revolution. Before the Internet, porn was dominated by top-down tastemakers. (Think Hugh Hefner and Playboy.) Now the industry is decidedly grassroots, built from the bottom up. As long as you’re over eighteen, there are no gatekeepers—you’re a content creator if you say you are, and you can make porn for any reason you like! There, indeed, have been porn producers that have had world-changing mission statements—read a terrific article breaking down some of the considerations of ethical porn and those who make it here.

However, they don’t call it the sex industry for nothin’—it’s a business. When it comes to the desire to both make content and influence people’s thinking, a useful parallel might be performing music, using a popular medium to both entertain and enlighten. At the same time, when you’re talking about capturing, promoting, and monetizing some of the most tender and intimate parts of yourself—your body, your gender, your desires—the stakes can get high in a hurry.

You need to get clear: do you want to be an artist, an activist, or make a living? I’m not saying you can’t achieve all three, but there is tension between those aims.

Let me break it down for you.

Goal: Expression

If your key goals are self-exploration, creativity and honesty, showing the world your unique insights into desire, then focus like a laser on that. By this I mean, dance like no one’s watching. Think of yourself like that subway busker who sings their heart out whether there’s a crowd listening raptly, a few folks strolling by, or even when no one’s around. Stay focused on your voice, your passion, your truth, and don’t get caught up in other people’s reactions.

Goal: Impact

Your question asks about wanting to “inspire others to think differently.” That means directly engaging with people who don’t think like you do. That’s not a trivial undertaking. It takes a true steel spine to deal with the hate, whorephobia, transphobia, misogyny, body-shaming, money-shaming, and all the other bullshit you’ll encounter promoting your porn, regardless of any higher purpose you might have for making it.

If you want to help people to think differently, then it’s essential to get clear about who your audience is, and how you want to engage them. One thing you might consider is a more gratifying goal of consciously cultivating folks who are naturally drawn to your content.

Goal: Money

Circling back to my earlier point, because porn is a money-making proposition, one of the most obvious ways to measure success is through sales. Equating money with success can stand in direct opposition to artistry and impact.

I encourage you now, before you get started, to have a plan on what you want YOUR success to look like. And if there’s a dollar amount in your head that feels like winning, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! But if money is secondary to you, then my recommendation is avoid getting caught up in how much you earn, don’t compare yourself to other creators, and have a vanilla job that supports your vision.

I’m all for the idea that porn can change hearts and minds. But to keep yourself safe and sane, get crystal clear about what you want to put into this proposition, and what you look to get out of it.

Until next time, be sweet to yourself.

Lola D.

2 Replies to “Making Porn For Change: Expression, Impact, Money”

  1. I’m doing my best to keep things fresh and exciting but I have to admit that I never thought I could make a change with my cam sessions. Being somewhat curvier I had my share of body shaming but I try to stay positive and to react calmly. Believe it or not, some messages took a very different turn when I responded on a more positive note, some guys even apologized.

    1. Hi Jessie, thanks for reading and commenting on Lola’s article! I’m sorry to hear you’ve had to endure body shaming and happy to hear you’ve found ways to turn it around. Just being you is enough to make a difference sometimes. Keep it up!

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