Reality Porn

71 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2021 Last revised: 20 Oct 2021

See all articles by I. India Thusi

I. India Thusi

Indiana University Maurer School of Law; Cornell Law School

Date Written: June 7, 2021


Prostitution is illegal while pornography is constitutionally protected. Modern technology, however, is complicating the relationship between prostitution and pornography. Recent technological advances make the creation and distribution of recorded material more accessible. Within our smart phones we carry agile distribution networks as well as the technical equipment required to produce low-budget films. Today, sex workers may be paid to engage in sexual activities as part of performances that are recorded and broadcast to a public audience. No longer confined to the pornography industry, this form of sexual performance can be created by anyone with a cell phone and access to the internet. In addition, modern popular culture recognizes the expressive value of reality and ordinary life. Technological advances will only continue to make broadcasting and sharing everyday life possible, raising the possibility that there will be a growing audience for, and communities organized around, sexually expressive materials online. This Article is the first to analyze this increasingly important and common phenomenon that it defines as reality porn. It argues that reality porn is pornographic paid sex work that should be accorded First Amendment recognition, notwithstanding the criminalization of the underlying act of prostitution. This Article redefines pornography and provides a framework for analyzing this sexual expression. As long as the conduct is consentable—both consented to in fact and consensual in nature—it should not be deprived of constitutional protection.

Keywords: pornography, First Amendment, constitutional law, criminal law, free speech, porn, feminist legal theory, gender and law, intersectionality, critical race theory

JEL Classification: K1, K14, K10, K00, K19, K42, K49, K30

Suggested Citation

Thusi, I. India, Reality Porn (June 7, 2021). NYU Law Review, 2021, Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

I. India Thusi (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Cornell Law School ( email )

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