Gloria Steinem Disconnects With Millennial Audience Over Pornhub Protest

gloria steinem porn hub protest

Feminism icon Gloria Steinem showed her conservative side, and her age, when she asked a clerk of Pornhub’s SoHo pop-up, “Why are you selling handcuffs? What do handcuffs have to do with free will?”

When third wave feminism goes awry.

There are a lot of reasons to not like Gloria Steinem: She challenges the status quo, she outspokenly disrupts in the name of feminism, she once worked with the CIA and has been a polarizing figure in liberal politics ever since she went to work undercover at a Playboy club in the sixties and wrote a highly publicized story about it for Show magazine. Some liberals even hate that she is embraced by feminists while being what they view as ultra capitalist and shilling for corporate interests with her magazine Ms. But all of that is nothing compared to the protest she led against PornHub’s pop-up shop in New York’s SoHo neighborhood on Saturday, where she spoke in front of a crowd of perhaps a couple hundred feminist demonstrators saying, “Porn Hub is a hub of violence. It is a hub of danger to women.”

Something many porn stars have embraced, perhaps unwittingly, in the new millennium has been a sense of a woman’s empowerment within the adult film industry. A few porn stars have even been seen struggling with actually calling themselves a feminist, but in the end have embraced the term.

One such woman is adult actress Asa Akira, who famously told Playboy magazine, “Fuck you, I’m a feminist,” adding that the industry is actually one of the few in which women actually have succeeded in equal pay, and in most cases even making more than their male counterparts.

This is where it gets complicated for Gloria Steinem — Akira has done some of the most brutal scenes you’ll find, including being tied up with rope and handcuffs, and tortured by the likes of multiple men and women. What’s more is she isn’t the only feminist in the adult film industry who has done so. Both Stoya and Joanna Angel, two very well known adult film actresses throughout the industry and who are openly feminist, have done some scenes that are just as violent, in some cases even moreso than Akira.

Women are 113% more likely to view “hardcore” porn than men. They’re also more likely to search for such terms as “gangbang,” “rough sex” and “double penetration.”


But adult film stars calling themselves feminists isn’t the even the best example of how out of touch Steinem is when it comes to feminism in porn. The kicker was when, in the above PIX11 video you can actually see her ask the PornHub employee, “Why do you sell handcuffs? What do handcuffs have to do with free will?” If you are younger than Steinem, you might ask yourself how she missed the boat on the consensual nature of using handcuffs during sex. In fact, using handcuffs during sex has not only been common to millennials and Gen Xers, but have been showcased in many popular movies and TV shows since the 60s and possibly earlier.

Even moreso to the point is that handcuffs aren’t only used on women in porn. Many times they are used by women on men, or even by men on other men in gay porn. To somehow believe that people aren’t using handcuffs consensually during sex throughout the United States is showing not just how out of touch Steinem is with the world, but also how conservative about sex she has become.

When she ran her expose of Playboy almost 60 years ago, it may have done some good as the company had worked hard to counter her argument that women were being abused and, since then, women have gained a lot more power within the company and within the adult film industry, most likely as a result of such exposes and hard work that Steinem put in.

The biggest question seems to be how Steinem is missing the fact that pornography represents a part of American life that isn’t going away anytime soon: human sexuality. The drive behind inhibiting sexuality always seems to come from religion, yet Steinem has a history of opposing religion on issues of sexuality, saying at a Maker’s Conference in Feb of 2014 in response to the question of what seems to be the “biggest problem with feminism today”,

“What we don’t talk about enough is religion. I think that spirituality is one thing. But religion is just politics in the sky. I think we really have to talk about it. Because it gains power from silence.”

What Steinem is essentially saying here is that religion is what she views as the biggest hurdle in the feminist movement. That begs the question of why she would side with religion on the issue of violence in porn. She claims it’s because the violence is usually being perpetrated against women, but for some reason she always seems to exclude the facts that a) these actresses have consented, in writing, to the violence being afflicted on them, and b) that the violence is not as secluded towards women as she lets on. Plus, when we looked into violent keywords on PornHub, such as “rape”, we received zero results; or the keyword “forced” which received zero results.

We went ahead and used PornMD’s live search feature to understand what we were dealing with in terms of interest in violent themes in online porn, and the results were just as interesting as the last fifty times we looked at it. Every week, there’s a new top search happening that is more offensive than the last. This week the top search on PornMD is “mom son”, and that just opens up a whole can of worms, especially since #7 in that same list is “mom”.

Yet, as provocative and unsettling as these searches can be, the women who perform in these videos seem to be willing to do quite a lot for pay that is often more than their male peers. There are hundreds of genres with hundreds, often times thousands of videos listed under them on all the top adult tube websites, and the number tends to grow as time goes on. Right now, for example, Porn Hub has a category called “Rough Sex” with over 15,000 videos listed. Interestingly enough, the category with the highest video count on the site is “HD” which has over 200,000 videos listed, tying with the “Porn Star” category, which tells us that the biggest interest on the site is most likely high quality videos of specific women…. which tells us that sexual worship of women may actually be the biggest interest on Porn Hub. And that would explain why women tend to get paid more then men in adult film.

That isn’t to say that it’s all peaches and cream for women in porn nowadays. A recent film about young adult film actresses called Hot Girls Wanted gives a behind the scenes look at what 18-22 year old girls who get into the industry have gone through and put up with, and sometimes it isn’t pretty. Many women who have been through the industry have explained that there still is a lot of coercion going on and that there isn’t enough regulation to help protect young women from basically getting paid to be raped.

And all of that is a perfectly acceptable debate to be had. But handcuffs? Someone may need to explain to Steinem what things like S&M are before she dies, or she will forever be remembered as the feminist who forgot what sexual fantasy was.



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