NSFW

Russia Has Declared War on Porn. Will the GOP Do the Same?

Brazzers recently became the third major porn site blocked by the Russian government in the last six months.

Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters

This week, the popular porn company Brazzers was placed on Russia’s infamous “blocklist,” becoming the third porn site in the last six months to be banned by the country’s internet watchdog Roskomnadzor. The ruling came down from a Russian court, which argued that the Brazzers XXX site has a “purely negative impact on the human psyche”—a claim that sounds eerily similar to an amendment to the GOP platform last year declaring porn “a public health crisis that is destroying the life of millions,” with the Republican Party further encouraging “states to continue to fight this public menace.” Soon after the block, Brazzers became one of the top trending topics on Twitter in Russia.

While some American adult industry insiders are in agreement with the Russian court’s take on Brazzers, it’s for entirely different reasons. Just a few months ago, one of porn’s biggest stars, Nikki Benz, alleged she was raped on a Brazzers set, publicly shaming the company on Twitter for failing to protect the company’s official brand ambassador. Though Brazzers directed blame towards the film’s director, there were others in the porn biz who cited issues with the company at large.

“Their business practices aren’t exactly pro-performer, but I don’t think it’s a government’s job to determine what people can and can’t view on the internet,” adult actress Addie Juniper told The Daily Beast. “I’m not a big fan of the male-centric content Brazzers puts out there, but again, it shouldn’t be the government’s right to take that away.”

It is ironic that Roskomnadzor banned Brazzers on the same day the ban was lifted on the popular tube site YouPorn, according to The Moscow Times. Both porn sites are owned by the same parent company, MindGeek. Pornhub, RedTube, Reality Kings, and Digital Playground are also in its adult online portfolio.

When pressed for comment, Brazzers redirected inquiries to their statement posted on Twitter: “Disappointed to hear that on such cold winter nights the good citizens of Russia have been denied the warm embrace of Brazzers entertainment.”

But horny Russian citizens, take note: YouPorn has a dedicated Brazzers channel with plenty of free, streamable porn. And it’s extremely accessible. Unlike many pay-for-play sites, the tube site doesn’t even ask for age verification, unlike Brazzers.

Technological advancements have made porn even more readily accessible, and with mobile devices rapidly becoming the preferred method to view porn, navigating safe access for children may be challenging. As a parent of two, adult actress Eve Lawrence has become increasingly aware of the complexities this presents. “Russia may be concerned that they are marketing pornography to children. As pornographers, we have a responsibility to self-regulate and protect those who are underage from viewing such content. This means more content protection and filters—especially for tube sites,” she says. Lawrence believes larger organizations should lead the fight in shielding children from pornography without enabling it. “Unfortunately, some companies favor profit over protection and over the years with the rise of parodies this stopped being a priority, and the line of ethics has blurred,” she adds. Capitalizing on the immense popularity of children’s shows, Brazzers’ parodies include Power Rack: A XXX Parody, She Wants My Dragon Ball, Ghostbusters XXX Parody, and Wonder Woman XXX. They’re not the only ones, either. The porn parody studio WoodRocket has created their own versions with Mighty Muffin Pounder Rangers, Ten Inch Mutant Ninja Turtles, Strokemon, and SpongeKnob SquareNuts. They were also the brains behind Donald Tramp – The XXX Parody, which sent up then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

On the European social networking site VK, otherwise known as Russia’s answer to Facebook, American pornographer Johnny Sins has taken a more proactive approach to getting Brazzers back online for his Russian fans. Referring to adult content as “love videos,” Sins wrote on the site that the content helps “encourage people to explore themselves, they do not break the law and should be available to every person in every country.” Sins has promised to play a Russian judge in his next film in exchange for 100,000 signatures on the petition to unblock Brazzers. With 122,000 VK followers, many of whom frequently refer to Sins as “Bald from Brazzers,” the odds may be in his favor. The Change.org petition has thus far collected over 19,000 signatures out of a total of 25,000.

And while the online petition may raise awareness, the actual reason for the Brazzers ban remains murky.

Porn star Carmen Valentina suspects it falls in line with the conservative politics of Russia—a ruse that allows Kremlin officials to claim they’re creating a safer environment for families. “It doesn’t make sense. The same company that owns Brazzers also owns YouPorn, and there are tons of Brazzers scenes on YouPorn,” says Valentina. “Seems like more of a stunt from the politicians trying to get re-elected in 2018. It’s a typical ploy to gain more votes. It’s politicians gearing themselves towards voters to show that they’re doing something to better the country by making up last-minute laws.”

Corruption in Russia is still rather prominent, according to the Transparency International corruption index, which begs the question: if Brazzers is blocked but YouPorn isn’t, is President Vladimir Putin really trying to protect the rights of citizens? And, given that President Trump admires Putin, and his GOP platform took aim squarely at porn, will the U.S. be next in censoring online porn sites (even though red states consume the highest volume of porn)?

When it comes to Russia, porn icon Nina Hartley, who has portrayed Hillary Clinton in various XXX parodies, suspects there’s another reason altogether: money.

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“Nothing happens in Putin’s Russia unless he gets a piece of it,” says Hartley. “Is this a crackdown or a shakedown? If Putin gets his cut will service be restored? Inquiring minds want to know!”