Ten reasons why I hate the term ‘poverty porn’

First google image the term poverty porn‘. Warning. Don’t do this if you have kids around you.

Definition Of Porn: Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement.

  1.  Equating media of often extremely vulnerable young black children with pornography (something sexual that  people  whack off to for pleasure) in order to score a point is disturbing.  Just because the photographer/film-maker has reduced the child to a one dimensional  stereotype is it really OK to double up the indignity by also reducing them, through comparison, to pornography; to an object of sexual desire?
  2. See reason 1
  3. See reason 1
  4. See reason 1
  5. See reason 1
  6. See reason 1
  7. See reason 1
  8. See reason 1
  9. See reason 1
  10. If only people could be arsed there are so many better (albeit less sexy) terms. Racism. Exploitation. Voyeurism. Sensationalism. Misrepresentation. Propaganda. Guilt-tripping.

Unless you really think people are being turned on by pictures of child poverty please do the kids in the pics a favour and leave porn out of it.

(For a proper analysis of the problems surrounding ‘poverty porn’ please read Professor David Campbell’s post here.)




Discussion (2 Comments)

  1. I know where you are coming from Benjamin. It is a crass choice of terminology for such an important problem. It is not a term I would use. But it has arguably drawn attention to and encapsulated the wider problem, even if, as David Campbell argues, not particularly accurately. For me (and I include myself in this), we tend to focus on critiquing what is wrong with the photographic depiction of poverty (and other issues of social injustice) and less on coming up with practical solutions that media outlets and photographers can use to help them avoid producing such work. So, yes, ‘poverty porn’ is a lazy term, but in many respects it is the messenger, not the problem. Go ahead and ‘shoot it’ but let’s also start suggesting a remedy (e.g. a methodological framework that can be put into practice in ‘the field’ by practitioners and NGOs). Admittedly, this will not be easy, but if we can come up with something, and disseminate it, including through training, there will be those who pick it up. We won’t necessarily bury the term ‘poverty porn’ but we may help diminish the number of images that fall under it.

    • Jimmy says:

      i would agree with you there. Im not sure where your from, but in the UK we have a bunch of programs with tittles like “benefit street” “Benefit Britain” “Skint” and “scroungers” which are all propoganda shows geared at representing those on welfare and living in poverty as disgusting creatures who don’t deserve help. There is no depth to these shows, it’s not insightful journalism. Poverty porn, as crass as it is, seems to sum it up petty well to me! Especially considering the implications of the word porn, porn is fake it’s voyeristic, its exploitetitive and it’s self serving, thats exactly what these shows are too!

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