Gloria Steinem and other women rights's activists gathered at Pornhub’s temporary Soho pop-up Friday morning to protest the store and the pornography industry. They also called on Mayor Bill De Blasio to take action.
“We would like to see leadership from our Mayor Bill de Blasio to take a stand against Pornhub coming into our neighborhoods, into our city, a site that sexualizes violence against women," said Sonia Ossorio, President of the National Organization for Women-New York.
Pornhub.com, which gets 64 million hits daily, opened the temporary brick and mortar store in November. It sells items like handcuffs, whips and other sex toys.
Some say it’s promoting pleasure. But Melanie Thompson disagrees. She was kidnapped and sexually assaulted at age 12 and says the Internet is one of the biggest platforms of exploitation. She believes the store ignores what she says is the dark side of pornography.
“A lot of times people that are ignorant on the subject only see the surface and what this particular pop-up shop is showing is that that surface is that women are enjoying it," said Thompson. "However, what’s really happening behind these closed doors are people are being cohered, being lured in by fraud or forms of coercion to have repeated rapes and physical abuse and mental abuse happening to them.”
Protesters ultimately marched into the store. And while they took issue with the merchandise, they were primarily protesting the pornography industry as a whole especially in light of recent sexual assault allegations.
“I hope we see that pornography is about power, not about sex in the same way we are beginning to understand that sexual harassment is not about sex it’s about power," said Steinem.
Corey Price, Pornhub's Vice President, provided a statement that reads: "Pornhub has a zero tolerance policy with respect to non-consensual content on our site. Such material directly violates our TOS and will never be permitted on our platform under any circumstance whatsoever. To further ensure the safety of all our fans, we officially took a hard stance against revenge porn, which we believe is a form of sexual assault, and introduced a submission form for the easy removal of non consensual content. Those who are on Pornhub and identify any material that is distributed without the consent of the individuals involved can now visit http://www.pornhub.com/content-removal and fill out the form found there to request the removal of nonconsensual material.”
The pop-up will close on December 20th.