Arabelle Raphael is a mixed race escort, porn performer/producer, and artist. Arabelle has worked in the sex industry for seven years as a phone sex operator, cam performer, pro-domme, peep show dancer and an FBSM provider. She has presented at University Of San Francisco and at the Feminist Porn Conference on various subjects as whorephobia in feminist porn and Catherine MacKinnon's work. Her photography and film work was featured in the We Are Still Working show at SomaArts as well as several film festivals. Arabelle has been nominated for three AVN awards and won Most Tantalizing Trans Film at the Toronto Porn Festival as co-director of All Mother's Lovers. She resides in the Bay Area with her husband and their two cats. You can follow her on Twitter @ArabelleRaphael.

Bellesa CEO Michelle Shnaidman.

How can you talk about ethics when your company is posting stolen content from producers and sex workers?

A tube site aimed at women did just that this month. Recently launched, Bellesa claimed it created a safe atmosphere for its users, which, unlike other tube sites, was supposedly free of “degrading” porn. However, like all tube sites, their collection of videos was largely acquired through piracy. While boasting “safe space” and “ethical porn for women,” Bellesa perpetuated the same exploitative practices the sleaziest tube sites do.

Their hypocrisy caused a stir in the porn industry. The site claimed to be empowering while simultaneously exploiting people’s sexual labor. At least some other tube sites let performers upload their content and get paid for it—it’s a way to make your money back on already pirated content. Bellesa also perpetuated sex positive feminism’s voyeuristic and conditional obsession with sex work, that is, the idea that it is only valid as long as it’s empowering—a standard other jobs are not held to. What this attitude ultimately demonstrates is a complete disregard for those who work in the sex industry.

To add insult to injury, Bellesa’s marketing campaign used Twitter to blast videos full of this kind of rhetoric, feeding a  liberal sex positive audience hungry for it. Feminist sex writer Suzannah Wess profiled their CEO Michelle Shnaidman at Bustle, opening her piece with, “It’s hard enough to find porn that isn’t totally degrading to women. And then, when you finally come across porn for women, it’s usually behind a paywall. There’s a good reason for this: It’s hard to produce porn ethically without charging customers. But Michelle Shnaidman, founder of Bellesa, has found a way to bring women porn they’ll actually enjoy without draining their bank accounts.”