I was having brunch with a couple friends over the weekend and we started talking about hooking up. We are all single and mostly use hook up apps to meet guys. We live in a large city, but we sometimes still hook up with the same people without even realizing it until after. We were talking about how we decide who to hook up with and I mentioned that I always exchange nudes and then decide from there. One of friends said he does the same thing, but our other friend seemed totally shocked. He said he has never sent a naked photo because he didn’t want to "make porn". I thought he was kidding when he said it, but he wasn't. He basically said that taking a naked photo and sharing it was both creating and distributing porn. I had never thought of it that way, but I guess he does. I guess I think there is a difference between what I'm doing and what I'd call porn. But am I wrong? I never send anything with my face and my dick in it, plus I don’t' get paid. So how can it be porn?
This is actually question that I pose to my class every year while teaching about pornography and sex work. I begin the lecture by asking them to define pornography for me. Generally, someone will say pictures or videos of sex. I follow this up with, does it have to have intercourse? If someone is masturbating, is it still porn? They will agree that yes, seeing someone masturbate in either video or photography is also porn. Then I introduce cam sites. If you're watching someone masturbate or have sex live, is it porn or is there a prerequisite that is must be filmed. They will then agree that it is still pornography even if it's live. Then I ask about what if they are the one on cam doing the masturbating or having sex. At this point I will lose some people and they will argue that it's porn when they watch it, but not when they engage it. Similarly, I will pose the question about taking naked photos. Is that porn? Here, I'm usually met with silence. Why? Because the majority of people will have done this (it is 2017 and this is a college class, let's be realistic). Then I'll point out that if they send that photo to someone, is it not distributing pornography? I'll then ask what the difference is, and 9 times out of 10 someone will say that the people in porn are getting paid. Ok, fair- but what if someone in it isn't getting paid, is it no longer porn? Is the person who's in the scene that gets paid doing porn but the person who isn't getting paid but still engaging in the same act therefore not making porn? The students will usually come up with multiple ways to change how they view their own behavior and how their behaviors mean different things than the behaviors of others. In psychology, we would call this cognitive dissonance, or when someone experiences discomfort while concurrently holding two contradictory beliefs, ideas, or thoughts.
To get back to your question, is it porn? Sure. But, does it matter that it's porn? The sex work industry is HUGE and annually makes more money than all sports organizations combined (NFL, NBA, etc.) Our society is VERY comfortable with watching porn. But often people who act in porn report being treated poorly and looked down upon. Why is it ok to enjoy porn, but then look down on people who engage in it? I'm curious to know if you argue that it's not porn because you don't want to be seen as someone who creates porn? And if so, why? At this point, and I don't have the statistics on this, but I'd guess that the vast majority of people between 18 and 40/50 years old have taken a naked photo at one point. So, aren't we all just underpaid porn stars?