Online porn is a multi-billion-dollar industry with websites such as Pornhub pulling in unprecedented global users per day. But now, a bill recently passed by the Louisiana Legislature is transforming the underground platform.
This law, which is now known to be the first of its kind in the nation, is requiring websites to perform reasonable age verification methods, ensuring that users are 18 or older. Republican state Rep. Laurie Schlegel was the bill’s lead sponsor and faced opposition from Gov. John Bel Edwards, but her bill still passed with obvious success.
The Louisiana law was soon followed by six other states: Arkansas, Montana, Mississippi, Utah, Virginia, and Texas. All of the bills achieved similar lopsided majorities and have been signed into law by Democratic and Republican governors alike.
The response has been immediate, with traffic to Pornhub in Louisiana alone dropping 80 percent since the bill’s implementation. Meanwhile, in the three other states where the law’s been in effect for months (Utah, Mississippi, and Virginia), Pornhub simply stopped operating.
But the roots of the bill are even more curious than its success. Schlegel explained that the true inspiration of her bill was due to an unlikely source: pop star Billie Eilish’s appearance on The Howard Stern Show. During the interview, Eilish confessed that she had started watching porn as an 11-year-old and “felt incredibly devastated”.
This caused Schlegel, a sex addiction therapist, to take action and seek an expert to persuade her colleagues in the legislature. Enter Gail Dines.
Dines is a professional anti-porn crusader and feminist, originally from Manchester, England, but has been living in the United States for 37 years. It’s strange to think that a Republican from Louisiana could be working alongside a self-proclaimed radical feminist, but both agree that childhood exposure to porn is a real issue.
Schlegel invited Dines to Louisiana to talk in front of the legislature on January 24, and to many’s surprise, her argument got an extra 30 sponsors for the bill. Dines was passionate and non-subtle in her remarks, citing a mental health crisis amongst Gen Zers due to the proliferation of internet porn.
Overall, online porn has had to conform to the many laws put in place in the past month, and many are still considering what the future looks like for sites like Pornhub. Sen. Todd Weiler of Utah believes this is an issue of great importance and is celebrating the incredible victory against the pornography industry.
“It’s a huge win for internet safety,” Weiler said. “My colleagues are high-fiving each other in boyish triumph.”
Weiler acknowledges the challenge that lies ahead with his colleagues, although it is undeniable that this issue is both a bipartisan and a national one. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the future of online porn moving forward.