Porn Is the Newest Weapon In Rio’s Battle Against Zika

In the Worst Possible Year to Have Sex in South America, masturbation is a virtue.


It’s no secret that the Olympics are really the athletic world’s quadrennial excuse to have an orgy. Unfortunately, 2016 has officially become the Worst Possible Year to Have Sex in South America because of the still-raging spread of the Zika virus. Declared sexually transmissible via men and, more recently, women, there’s no better way to prevent its spread than by simply abstaining from sex.

Which is, of course, a ludicrous epidemiological strategy: Throwing thousands of caipirinha-lit tourists and hard-bodied athletes into the sexiest 485 square miles of terrain on the planet will, inevitably, erupt into a hot hormone storm that rages so hard it’s palpable. The international bodies involved in curbing Zika’s sexual spread during the Olympics are at a loss, not because containment is impossible but because containment is the goal in the first place. Enter PornHub, which acknowledges, in its simple solution, one fundamental truth of human biology: Sex only spreads disease when it involves someone else.

The porn behemoth’s campaign to curb the spread of Zika, cheekily named the “Ooohlympics,” is essentially a celebration of masturbation. After all, just because potentially Zika-tainted bodily fluids are a threat doesn’t mean they can’t be released; to help with the expulsion process, Pornhub is offering free membership to Pornhub Premium — the website’s high-definition, $9.99-per-month private channel — to all residents of Rio de Janeiro, Olympic athletes, and visitors who log in from within the city limits during the Games.

On the streets of Rio, Pornhub employees will kickstart the “health initiative” on August 5 and 6 by handing out Zika Protection Kits, which include a Pornhub Premium gift card, a canister of bug spray, a box of tissues, and a bottle of a lube, which the company says comprises “all the essentials to ensure protection.” Farcical though the campaign may seem, its science checks out: As far as scientists can tell, avoiding mosquito bites and preventing Zika carriers from bumping their virus-laden uglies is all we can do to curb the disease’s spread.

“By providing an alternative to sexual intercourse, we are making an effort to combat this disease head on,” said Corey Price, Pornhub’s Vice President, in a release. “Get ready to put your best O-faces on, for the Olympics of course.”

Curbing Zika's spread during the Olympics means avoiding sex -- with other people. 

The language used in the campaign suggests it’s not entirely serious, but Pornhub has blurred the line between satire and earnestness before, to great effect: With BangFit, its sexercise campaign, it turned sex into a game in which burned calories were points. Whether anyone became any more fit as a result was beside the point; what was crucial was that porn watchers became aware of the control they wielded over their own bodies. The same goes for the Oohlympics campaign, except that the focus is on raising our awareness about what goes into — or stays out of — our bodies.

Alas, even Pornhub’s ballsy approach to minimizing the effects of Zika might be too conservative. Implicit in the exclusion of condoms from the Zika Protection Kits is the assumption that porn watching is a solo activity, one that does not lead to sex with other people. Considering that the most visible consequence posed by the virus is microcephaly in infants being born to infected mothers, surely preventing pregnancies should be a priority in any Zika-centered health campaign.

Still, curbing Zika’s spread during the Games will, like orchestrating the Olympics, require intense collaboration from multiple bodies. The CDC has taken a traditional approach, alerting athletes and travelers of their risk level; others, like the Australian Olympic team, are coming prepared with Zika-proof condoms. If the Oohlympic campaign succeeds in at least raising awareness about the viral loads contained in, well, a person’s load, Team Snapchat should probably get a medal.

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