In the era of #MeToo, not only do we find a pervasive culture of sexual harassment in politics, business, and entertainment, many major companies contribute to sexual exploitation each year, as well. While there are some growing concerns over this movement’s reach and tactics—and rightly so— a lot of them fall on deaf ears when it comes to combatting pornography, graphic sexual violence, prostitution, sex trafficking, or sexual objectification.
Since 2013, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) has put out its annual “Dirty Dozen” list highlighting those companies or entities engaging in or promoting sexual exploitation. I attended yesterday’s press conference for their 2018 “Dirty Dozen” list at their Washington, D.C., office. If you weren’t able to make it, here’s a recorded livestream broadcast of the press conference for your viewing pleasure.
Unlike previous years, this year’s “Dirty Dozen” list featured the Poster Boys of #MeToo: disgraced Hollywood heavyweights Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen, and James Franco. Social media platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube are regulars on the list. You can see who made this year’s list below:
Three contenders for the “Dirty Dozen”—currently on the “Watch List”— include Verizon Wireless, the Department of Justice, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.
While DOJ is on their Watch List, the organization communicated their optimism in new DOJ leadership’s ability to enforce existing law — unlike previous administrations. This includes laws prohibit the following: distribution of hardcore, obscene pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite or hotel/motel TV and in sexually oriented businesses and other retail shops. Under President Obama, the DOJ led by former Attorney General Eric Holder dismantled the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force in 2011.
Obscenity is not protected under the First Amendment. Per DOJ, U.S. courts use the Miller test (based off the 1973 case Miller v. California which found obscenity doesn’t have First Amendment protections) to determine if material is obscene through visual depictions, spoken words, or written text. Here’s more on what constitutes obscenity from the department:
Federal law makes it illegal to distribute, transport, sell, ship, mail, produce with intent to distribute or sell, or engage in a business of selling or transferring obscene matter. Convicted offenders face fines and imprisonment. Although the law generally does not criminalize the private possession of obscene matter, the act of receiving such matter could violate federal laws prohibiting the use of the mails, common carriers, or interactive computer services for the purpose of transportation.
Why the “Dirty Dozen” list? Its goal is to “name and shame” major players who perpetuate sexual exploitation through means of “pornography, prostitution, sexual objectification, sexual violence and/or sex trafficking.” Moreover, this project of NCOSE is an activism tool that empowers consumers to make call-to-actions to inspire change with respect to how sexual exploitation is seen in popular culture. Additionally, the project touts its track record of “uniting thousands of individual actions and targeting them to create monumental changes.” Recent victories include implement important policy changes at major companies like Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s, Google, Facebook, Department of Defense, American Apparel, Comcast, Google, GooglePlay, and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, just to name a few.
This should be an issue uniting Americans of all political stripes. But alas, it’s not receiving the proper coverage and condemnation it deserves.