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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Column: Pornhub offers scholarship to help erase stigma of sex work

    College is hard and cold like a stripper pole. That people often turn to one to pay for tuition, housing and increasing student fees is not surprising.

    The classical cliche of “putting myself through [insert schooling here]” by working at a club, escorting or performing in porn exists for a reason, especially in today’s more sex-positive society. And although we, as a society, are more sex-positive, there exists a degrading and toxic stigma surrounding sex work in general, with the layman disrespecting sex workers of all types, even though Pornhub and other sites report that around 50 million Americans view porn regularly.

    Thankfully Pornhub, one of the Internet’s most trafficked porn sites with an average of 60 million unique visitors per day, has recognized the plight of people seeking education and is totally on-board with using the porn industries’ multi-billion dollar annual revenues to help out.

    According to Corey Price, vice president of marketing for Pornhub, in an interview with Mic News, “The Pornhub Cares Scholarship is for that deserving student who has demonstrated a combination of academic achievement and community leadership, who is interested in making the world a better place. We want to provide for future innovators and leaders, and this is a step in that direction.”

    The application form requires a GPA of 3.2 or higher and encourages creativity—there is even a video option (although it does not have to be X rated!)

    While the $25,000 would undoubtedly help to mitigate some of the stress and cost associated with attending an institution of higher education, the scholarship also points out the difficulty many sex workers experience in merely existing in a shockingly puritanical society.

    Pornhub isn’t the first company to offer this kind of scholarship. Rentboy.com offers a $1,500 scholarship to male sex workers, and a group of pornstars led by Mercedes Carrera, working in conjunction with The Fine Young Capitalists, have created a fund to sponsor STEM students with money raised through a donation-based cam show.

    The Cash4Class scholarship, according to Rentboy.com, is being offered “as part of [the company’s] commitment to redefine the stigma associated with sex work, and encourage their men to think about long-term career paths outside of the sex industry.” The theme of the essay is “Why Going to School is a Part of Achieving My Dream” and is increasingly relevant given the recent raid on Rentboy’s offices. 

    With their CEO and many employees in custody following a raid of the site’s offices under suspicion of engaging in thinly veiled prostitution, the need for decriminalization of sex work has never been more pressing.

    People are engaging in sex work as a career. As a massive portion of the population is consuming the products of their labor, they should not be penalized, incarcerated or forever blackballed from non-sex industry jobs. Many industry veterans have stated that it is nearly impossible to be taken seriously outside the industry because people will always recognize you and make things weird.

    “Today’s escorts and porn stars may become tomorrow’s programmers, lawyers and innovators who will take the adult industry into the next generation of apps, cams and provider/client verification software,”said Rentboy COO Hawk Kinkaid in a press release. “But this isn’t about the adult industry educating its own cohort group. The fact of the matter is that large numbers of students are already turning to sex work to help pay for tuition, room and board and long-term student loan bills.”

    Long story short: a ton of people consume porn and other forms of sex work, and someone has to produce it. While Pornhub’s initiative is marketed toward students (who don’t have to be sex workers), it is estimated that one in five students consider participating in some form of sex work to pay for schooling and that 5 percent actually do engage in it.

    In the case of Belle Knox, Duke University’s most infamous co-ed, her involvement in porn was lucrative. Even though many students at Duke enjoyed it, she has since faced aggressive harassment and shaming.

    Attitudes toward sex and rampant cultural incentives to slut shame aren’t going to change overnight. Philanthropic donations from the sex industry—like Pornhub’s 2012 $30,000 donation to Susan G. Komen Breast cancer foundation to “Save the Boobies,” which was rejected—aren’t going to magically stop being “dirty money” to the masses. But maybe, just maybe, a scholarship from a porn website might be able to get a load off (your back, financially) while simultaneously providing legitimacy to an industry that almost everyone participates in.


    Follow Nick Havey on Twitter.


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