By Anonymous

This is an issue I have with feminism.

Pornography doesn’t have to be abusive or objectifying. Trust me, there is p0rn for everyone. Sure you can argue that most of it is made for men because, big surprise, mostly men watch it. Or, mostly men admit to watching it. If you think your audience will be mostly male, why would you tailor the content to someone else? Historically, feminists have been good about making change and demands for things they really want: votes, equal employment chances, etc. But when it comes to pornography the feminists I meet and read about just seem to complain about its evils and how it sets up unrealistic expectations of women/objectifies women/or (insert disparaging remark) towards women and don’t really do anything about it. To this end I have a few remarks.

1. It’s film centered on physical attractiveness. I can’t remember when last I saw a television show or mainstream Hollywood movie that didn’t have unrealistic depictions of men and women. They both present fantasies: fantasies of sex, or fantasies of seeing someone else life. If you want to argue that the depictions of women are *more* unrealistic that those of men, then this is subjective. Either way I don’t internalize those notions and I don’t wish to look like the pornography actresses I see. We’re not talking about how the media is teaching little girls to have low self esteem. These videos are for adults and I pray to God that little girls aren’t watching them. Also, I’m not certain that pornography is making men disappointed in the physical reality of women. If you met such a guy, why would you stick around??

2. Yes, there is some awful porn. There is also a lot of pornography that is gorgeous and hot, and some that are made for women. It’s not really fair to generalize about the entire industry based on the examples that you dislike the most. More importantly, I think if women started being honest, stopped seeing recorded sex acts or masturbation as dirty, or actually made a demand for mainstream videos that end when the woman orgasms and not just the man, we may actually see more of it. Should you choose not to make such a demand, you can just watch the videos you do enjoy or choose to watch none.

Kinda rambling, but I hope you get my point… :)


5 Responses to Why is Pornography Considered Evil?

  1. Deborah says:

    Some of the points you make are valid, but I think they are mostly pertinent when we talk about mature adult use of p0rnography. While there may be some forms of p0rn that don’t inherently objectify or disproportionately misrepresent female sexuality, I would say that that’s a pretty small slice of the p0rn industry in general. But my bigger point is that while mature adults who have a sense of what healthy sexuality is might be able to use that kind of p0rn in a manner that is not detrimental to their image of themselves or their partners, that’s not true for teenagers. I think probably the worst thing about p0rn is that a lot of men learn about sex from p0rn. The internet smut that a fifteen year old boy is finding on the internet is not the gender-equal p0rn you speak of, and that’s what they learn about sexuality from. How that translates into their actual interactions with women later in life is problematic, and also builds a sexist mindset about what women’s expectations and sexual roles are right off the bat.

    • Mandy says:

      Deborah, I think I understand what you’re trying to say: you don’t object to pornography on principle, but you do object to p0rn that you perceive as harmful (correct me if I’m wrong). Here’s my two cents on that:

      The blanket statement that p0rn is harmful because there is a lot of bad p0rn is, to me, akin to saying that books are harmful because there are a lot of bad books. Flawed analogy? Sure. But the fact is that anyone can write a book these days, and a lot of those books are full of content that is downright awful and, one might even argue, harmful. But to each his/her own, you know? Same goes for what you like to watch when you’re in the mood, if anything.

      As for me? I’m a woman. I consider myself a feminist. I watch p0rn, and not always (in fact, not usually) the gender-equality-promoting kind, because that’s not what turns me on. I like men, and I like watching me, so I watch pornography that is centered on men and male pleasure. I’m not watching it as an outlet for my feelings on gender equality, I’m watching it to relieve sexual tension. I also find that talking about the pornography we watched has improved my and my boyfriend’s sex life. If you prefer woman- or couple-centered or furniture-centered or whatever erotic entertainment, that’s awesome too. Diff’rent strokes.

      Anything in the wrong hands can be harmful, and as the sister of a 14-year-old brother who was once a teenager, I can say with certainty that teenagers are the wrong hands for this kind of thing. I think the focus needs to be on keeping adult entertainment within adult circles, for people who are mature enough to enjoy it safely and with its intended purpose. Most p0rn was never meant to educate, so I don’t feel that we can very well blast it for not doing that properly.

      • Neha says:

        With all due respect, yes we can. Firstly, feminism is complex- there isn’t consensus on everything, and p0rnography is certainly one such subject which feminists continue to debate with eachother. You are over-simplifying both p0rnography and feminism, here, I think.

        Just because something is not MEANT to educate doesn’t refute the reality that it DOES EDUCATE. That is the issue (if we allowed intentionality to excuse consequence, most discussions of racism and sexism would be invalid ones, because the majority of both are so embedded in the quotidien that they are seldom intentionally or even consciously exhibited).

        It’s a valid issue. Particularly because it is not some rando making p0rn that is blatantly misogynist, and a handful of people are getting off to it. P0rn that is blatantly misogynist is MAINSTREAM. And that is a problem.

        Anti-sexist change in the p0rn industry is happening, by the way. But as with anything, it is obviously a slow process. As a mature adult I do not care two straws for bad p0rn (unless we want to talk about the economics of exploitation, because yes, those exist as well). But when it is mainstream enough that it starts to influence the way men my age or younger treat me or the women in my life in sexual situations, or learn to identify themselves (and through themselves, seek to identify ME)- yes. Then I care. As well I should, I think.

        Also, just because a p0rno focuses on male pleasure doesn’t mean it’s sexist. Just like how p0rnos that focus on female pleasure aren’t necessarily feminist.

        • Mandy says:

          I disagree. I am not oversimplifying anything. I was making a statement about what I like, and how that informs my opinion on this matter. I provide one perspective that I consider a feminist one. You, and any other feminists, are free to disagree. We’re clear on that. In fact, I was trying to REFUTE the OP’s claim that “feminists” do not like p0rnography (also, would it be possible to get rid of whatever filter keeps making us do that? It looks very silly to me).

          So…does that mean that we can go after any type of media for its unintended consequences? I don’t believe that. I do not believe that the creators of any type of film, book, magazine, etc. can be held accountable for the actions of the audience. Now, I do believe that the audience can be EDUCATED that there is p0rn out there that might be to their tastes that doesn’t depict misogynist images. That’s totally fine. I encourage any attempts to do that.

          But suppose someone (let’s say, a woman) finds that she is turned on by a p0rnographic video of a woman being whipped by a man. Suppose this particular woman enjoys being submissive in BDSM sex. Suppose in her “real life,” she’s a perfectly sane, healthy, confident woman who just happens to enjoy that particular fetish. Is she wrong for consuming this type of p0rn because other women consider it harmful? Is a man who enjoys being a “dom” wrong for enjoying it? It’s a complicated matter that requires a large moral gray area, but I say no. I think that as long as sex acts take place between consenting adults who do not feel they are being harmed, basically anything is fair game, and I think that fetishists should have p0rnography available that they can enjoy. It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that this does not fall into the hands of their young children.

          As a disclaimer, I acknowledge that there’s a lot of p0rn that I find pretty gross (and offensive) regularly available on the web. But I cannot say that I have any real problem with it, AS LONG AS the participants and the audiences are consenting adults. What worries me is whether or not the actors in the films are actually enthusiastically consenting, which is why I try to only watch films where I know that this is the case.

          TL;DR version, I think that it’s well within your rights to not watch and even to protest p0rn (or any media) that you find offensive and misogynistic, but I also think that a person’s sexual preferences are his or her own business and that as long as certain criteria are met, I have no right to take away what turns them on. And I REALLY take issue with this notion that “feminists” do not like p0rn, which is continually propogated by people (not you) who believe they speak for all feminists. I’d also imagine that we agree more than we disagree.

  2. Neha says:

    I agree with Deborah.

    The issue is not what p0rn I watch (and I do watch p0rn). It’s the p0rn that is most pervasive and readily available, and the impact of said p0rn on male and female understandings of sex and power in the absence of decent sex education in this country.

    As far as tastes are concerned, statistically speaking, only certain portions of American men (primary white and middle class) watch mainstream online p0rnography. What we find or do not find arousing is dependent on our socialization, and I think feminist critique of why exactly watching several men come on a woman’s face (and the entire time watching HER face convulse in ecstasy instead of the men’s) is arousing, is a valid one.

    Also, the p0rnography market is self-perpetuating. As in to say, that which is made is made because it sells, and that which sells is what is available because it is made. The clearest example of how p0rnography directly influences male expectations of female bodies would be the rise in the popularity of the removal of pubic hair for women. The manufacturing of p0rnography is influenced by but also influences its market.

    The most important influence of p0rnography, however, is not on expectations for how female bodies should look, but on how men and women should behave during sex. Mapping power disparities in p0rn videos (evident in camera angles, where and on whom the camera focuses, actual acts, male and female reactions to said acts, language and verbal communication, scenario description, etc), one finds some frighteningly consistent themes of men feeling entitled to and being in control not only of their own sexualities, but of women’s, as well (which seems to be just another extension of society at large’s association of masculinity with control). Make note: the point is not one of domination and submission role play, but of actual CONTROL OVER AN ENTIRE SITUATION- in which consent and pleasure become dubious. P0rnography doesn’t just sell images of copulating individuals, it sells some very strong ideas about masculinity and femininity- who has control over whom, what demeans whom and what doesn’t (I for my own part have some real issues with the portrayal of blowjobs as an act of punishment or humiliation), and what both men and women should want. P0rnography acts as a sex-educator for many adolescent boys, who turn into men, and it demonstrates a very specific sex etiquette, which feminists argue is blatantly sexist, at this point. In the absence of alternate understandings of gender and sex from different and equally-available sources, such messages can prove particularly powerful. Hello, perpetuation of the virgin-whore dichotomy, which American feminism has been fighting against for so long.

    I’m sorry you have thus far only encountered feminists who want nothing to do with p0rnography. I for my own part know plenty of feminists who find nothing inherently wrong with p0rnography, but have some serious issues with the American p0rnography industry itself (and rightly so).

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