We now have enough evidence to be confident that a significant percentage of the ‘performers’ involved in pornography are doing so under coercion. For example, Trafficking Hub, the recent campaign against Pornhub, has amassed a glut of information revealing the extent to which Pornhub is hosting and enabling sexual abuse, rape, and trafficking.

What does this mean for the consumers of porn, the ones driving demand?

While it is true that not all consumers of pornography are coming from the same place (many are viewing porn in violation of their own stated moral principles, while others do not find anything objectionable, in principle, about producing or viewing porn), I’m sure we would all draw the line when it comes to trafficking. That is why we need to understand that when we view these videos, we are essentially enabling their rape.

Each click-through to a video has real world ramifications for real people.

The problem is that it is not immediately obvious to the consumer whether or not somebody is under coercion in any given scene. The whole premise, after all, is that everything is a fantasy and an illusion; if the pleasure is being faked, then why not also the consent? Who can tell from this side of the screen?

This ambivalence is obviously quite convenient since it affords us that wonderful thing known as ‘plausible deniability’. In other words, it allows us to continue using and consuming these women while pleading ignorance as to their true situation.

The time for such excuses is over. The evidence is clear and the verdict is in; the modern consumer of porn can no longer plead ignorance (if they ever could). Even if it turns out that the percentage of trafficked women on porn sites is relatively low, the appropriate action, by any standard, is to err on the side of caution and avoid porn altogether.

(Disclaimer: I write this not as an accuser of others but specifically as someone who used porn for many, many years, and is thus equally implicated in the above).