Orgasms for world peace? A charity porn site can't give its money away

Nonprofits are skittish about accepting donations from a porn site that raises money for good causes

Published March 4, 2015 12:00AM (EST)

  (<a href=''>AleksandarNakic</a> via <a href=''>iStock</a>/Salon)
(AleksandarNakic via iStock/Salon)

Imagine, thousands of horny, one-handed typists deciding to navigate away from free tube sites and instead pay for porn that benefits charitable causes. Orgasms for world peace! Boobs benefiting cancer research! Hard=ons for needy kids! It appears a fantastically far-fetched scenario -- particularly in a day and age when paying for porn at all seems anachronistic -- but a new adult site is actually making it happen. In just over two months, Hump the Bundle, a play on the popular video game site The Humble Indie Bundle, raised nearly $15,000 in donations.

Only problem is, they can hardly find any charities willing to take their money.

Adult businesses routinely face hurdles when it comes to mainstream partnerships and financial transactions. Recent examples include Chase shutting down porn stars’ bank accounts and Google AdWords banning adult businesses. This holds true even when it comes to fundraising and charity. Last year, WePay shut down cam girl Eden Alexander’s efforts to fundraise for unexpected medical bills. Her campaign mentioned nothing of her work and yet WePay canceled her campaign on the grounds that it violated the service’s ban on fundraising in “connection with pornographic items.” In 2010, activist and sex worker Maggie Mayhem tried to raise funds to go to Haiti for relief work and PayPal shut her down after a month of fundraising.

So far, Hump the Bundle has managed to partner with the Foundation for Sex Positive Culture, which promotes sex positivity through art and advocacy, Able Gamers, which develops better video games for disabled people, and Angels Giving Tree, an organization that gives holiday gifts to needy children. But those are the exceptions, not the rule. Just this week, Hump the Bundle received the following rejection by email: “After speaking with our legal and communication teams, we have decided that we will not pursue this offer."

The creator of Hump the Bundle, a man who goes by the name Humpy Leftnut, tells me, “I don't think charities love the idea of giving money back, and even worse -- paying staff members to figure out what money is icky enough to refuse,” he says. “But they feel they're put in this situation by their rich and/or religious donors. Why risk it?”

He had high hopes that Toys for Tots would accept his offer, since the company has at least once accepted a donation from a strip club. Instead, Mr. Leftnut received an email reading, “As you might imagine, such a statement by us would create  much controversy and cost us a significant number of supporters. The ultimate bottom line, I fear, is that we would raise far fewer toys and dollars and consequently reach far fewer families in need this Christmas," the message continued. "While I make no personal judgment on your business, I hope you will understand when I say it is not worth the chance our foundation would have to take to work with your website."

Cindy Gallop, creator of the website Make Love Not Porn, which aims to portray "real world sex," is familiar with this particular predicament. "What's at play here is what I often cite to people as our single biggest obstacle in building Make Love Not Porn, which is the social dynamic that I call 'fear of what other people will think,’” says Gallop, whose fundraising for Make Love Not Porn took two years. "It is never about what the person I'm talking to thinks. It is always about their perception -- and by the way, utterly wrong-headed fear -- of what they think other people will think." This blinding paranoia leads to a total refusal to consider adult businesses on their own individual merits, she says. As a result, the market is dominated by less scrupulous companies, Gallop argues. Meanwhile, mission-driven adult businesses like Make Love Not Porn and Hump the Bundle struggle.

"Every single person who refuses to allow an honest, legal adult company to bank with them, who refuses to allow an honest, legal adult company to use their payment system, who refuses to take a donation from an honest, legal adult company, every single one of those entities is directly responsible for every bad thing that happens in the adult industry," she says. "When you refuse to allow an entire industry to operate as it would like to, when you force it into the shadows and underground, you make it a lot easier for bad things to happen and you make it a lot more difficult for good things to happen." Like, say, porn that benefits charity. There is a sort of expectation fulfillment at play here: The entirety of the adult industry is judged by our worst fears of it, and what other people think of it, which forces it to become ever more like our worst fears.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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