The Responsibility of Museums

The Responsibility of Museums

12/18/2020 Update:

We are glad to see the International Slavery Museum reconsidered the TraffickingHub exhibit, and is re-examining its practices and affiliations.


We at the Erotic Heritage Museum recently became aware that the well-respected International Slavery Museum has an exhibition collaborating with Exodus Cry’s Traffickinghub promotion. Their intent seemingly is to destroy the Pornhub website. It is unfortunate to see a place of history and intellect misusing the power of its influence. By assigning race and the adult industry together as “forced sex slavery through pornography”, the message assumes all within the industry are there against their own volition. Specifically, their exhibit insinuates that all women of color are forced into prostitution which is a form of modern slavery.

As an educated woman of color within the adult industry, an academic, and as a willing participant; I can say with full certainty that there are truths of sex trafficking among listed pornographic websites. However, Pornhub and many other reputable companies do their best to vet every film that comes into their database and report those that are concerning. I am not discarding the horrors that occurs to trafficking victims, but would ask that the International Slavery Museum include non-biased information for their guests, which include perspectives of the participants within the industry, as well as research documenting the way the adult websites organize their collections.

It is important not to discredit information we do not understand. As we move forward as a society, to be well-rounded, we must be willing to hear out perspectives of others and offer to share their side as well.

Mircalla L. McNeely, BA, MLIS
Erotic Heritage Museum Curator

Museums are a unique mixture of art and politics, especially as they pertain to sexuality. While we would like to think of Museums as inert places whos only job is to preserve and display a wide swath of cultural items, this perspective could not be further from the truth. Museums instead are deeply political, given the items contained therein are shaped by psychological and cultural dynamics of different eras, different geographic locations and the different morals and taboo’s of each artist / sculptor / creator.

As such, Museums have an even greater responsibility to educate the public as best as it can on alternating views and artistic expressions found within its hallowed walls. Museums should be controversial, but temper that controversy with unbiased information allowing guests to make up their own minds about the exhibits they are viewing.

The ARTXFREEDOM contest in collaboration with the Exodus Cry Organization’s “TraffickingHub” campaign represents a biased view of PornHub, and more expansively, of pornography, and sex trafficking, that does a disservice to and erases the voices of consensual sex workers, ignores the plight of trafficking victims in other, less controversial industries, and fails to offer a broader, and more nuanced perspective of the sex industry, sex work and sex trafficking.

This exhibit also fails to include not only any artworks from sex workers for whom PornHub, or more broadly, adult film work, has been a positive experience, but fails to include the voices of men and male identified sex workers, as well as Intersexed, Queer or Gender Non-Conforming persons, nor does it include feminist, independent female operated or Queer adult film companies whom are severely negatively impacted by the activities of Exodus City and similar organizations.

In conclusion, given the exhibit’s ties to Exodus City and the one sided nature of the exhibit, in this case, the organizers of this contest missed the mark on responsible Museum curation, and the dissemination of nuanced cultural information to the general public.

Victoria R. Hartmann, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Executive Director
Erotic Heritage Museum


Museum Supporter Commentary:

At first glance, I’m disturbed at the white savior imagery. It triggered what it feels like as a black woman to address white fragility and white guilt as part of my daily routine. Thank you, white lady, for creating a debt for this young black woman that she can never pay. Is that not slavery? How many times will she be reminded by you and others that you saved her life, or did you?

I am horribly disappointed that the UK slavery museum would insult the offense of what slavery did to the human race by attacking Pornhub. I bet no one there truly understands what Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome really is because if they did they would understand that this exhibit is truly unfit for the “slavery museum”. Slavery was one of the most vile, disgusting, violent and vicious things that happened in this world. The effects of it, passed down from generation to generation to generation like my grandmother’s pound cake recipe. How dare you attempt to equate it with anything! Especially, when you know killing season for black and brown people has never ended.

Human trafficking is horrible, it’s wrong and perpetrators should be punished and put under the jail. Sex trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons who under threat, force, coercion, fraud, deception or abuse of power are sexually exploited for the financial gain of another. The attack on PornHub does not aid in the fight against sex trafficking and it doesn’t make sense.

Sex work and sex trafficking are not synonymous! Women are not powerless. We can, we will and we do make conscious decisions to participate in sex work.  For some women it’s freedom, it’s powerful and a true expression of art and body autonomy. In a Country where my President bragged about grabbing a woman by the pussy, women are still not trusted to make decisions on what they want to do with their private parts. Shame of all of you, that supported this.

S. Denise Rivers, DHS, MA

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