Lust Thrust Thursdays: Corporate Sexual Responsibility

PornHub launched an online Sexual Wellness Center, a sister site for all things Sex Ed. The launch got me thinking of a fancy PR/marketing term: corporate responsibility. We usually apply this term for things like the photo-op employee volunteer work or recycling the extra pieces of paper the printer accidentally spits out. Officially, corporate responsibility is a company’s way to take responsibility of its effect on its physical and social environment.

It’s no secret that teenagers watch pornography. Much of the flack that porn gets is that no matter how obviously unrealistic the scenarios, inexperienced teenagers are watching these videos on threesomes, anal, gangbangs and even rape fantasies and absorbing it as rule book. An explicit website can have as many “18+ only” warnings as they can fit on a screen, but what’s to stop a curious fourteen-year-old from clicking the option certifying him an adult?

Explicit websites use these “of age” confirmations to wash their hands of liability. Are they legally responsible to do more? Probably not. Is PornHub legally responsible for what their audience takes away from their erotic visual database? Probably not, either. But with this Sexual Wellness Center, it has taken a step to show that they at least want to be responsible enough to offer useful information about the human body, STDs, reproductive health and sexuality. PornHub hired Dr. Laurie Betito, a renowned clinical psychiatrist with a specialty in sexuality. It’s taken the time the show they care about their audience, which is, at the very least, good PR.

In what other areas can we show sexual responsibility? Universities come to mind. Universities are first and foremost institutions of higher learning. One could argue that a university’s responsibility is only to provide the best possible education and the tools for said education, such as adequate teachers, a library full of the latest technologies and the infrastructure to hold all of these students and classes. Any crimes, such as sexual assault, can be left up to the authorities.

Title IX from the Education Amendments Act of 1972 states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” This has been interpreted as Title IX requiring universities to protect students from hostile environments. While that may sound straightforward, it is isn’t. Being raped, one of the most violent things that can happen to the human body, is of course evidence of a “hostile” environment, but accusing someone of rape also creates a “hostile” environment for the one being accused, or so it has been interpreted that way.

So Title IX has its problems, but the intention was to discourage discrimination in schools. It was under Obama’s administration that the meaning of the Title IX was broadened to include sexual assault victims and trans students. And, likes all things in 2017, it is currently at risk of being tossed out. The newly confirmed Betsy DeVos refused to take a position on Title IX during her confirmation hearings. Besides saying “Assault in any form in never OK, I just want to be very clear on that,” it’s not clear where she stands on the responsibility that universities have for preventing and reacting to sexual assault. But we can guess. The DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative has donated to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that currently challenging Obama’s protection for trans students and actively working to repeal the stricter guidelines on campus sexual assault. So if things go her way, and let’s face it, they probably will, will these landmarks for higher learning and elevated culture protect their students, not because they’re legally obligated to, but because it’s the right thing to do? Or will universities at least consider it for the sake of corporate social responsibility and good PR?

We’re about to find out.

Gem Blackthorn is QMT's Sex Columnist, and the author/curator of Lust Thrust Thursdays. Send her your submissions and questions at sexsexsex [at]

Submit a comment