Women In Pornography: Empowering or Degrading?

Women In Pornography: Empowering or Degrading?

It's a bigger problem than you'd think.
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A response to an academic analysis on pornography in United States sexual culture called "Pornland" by Gail Dines.


Along with the increasing availability and consumption of pornography in society has come increased complexity within modern day perceptions of sex acts. The complexities that have evolved around the role (or rather, lack thereof) of the woman in sex reaffirm the notion that women are meant to serve men in their sexual practices.

Specifically, in regards to the changing norms of how a woman should maintain and present herself, certain aspects of gender expectations reaffirm the sexual inequalities that women face in opposition to men. Just as pornography has affected our sex lives, there is correlation to the rise of digital media usage and its impact on our relationships.

In our highly influenced culture, it is a combination between an inability to create truly organic, uninfluenced relationships and a preference to participate in hookup culture that the porn industry has infiltrated our modern day conceptions of heterosexuality and sexual reality.

The modern conception of sex and romance, and more importantly, what makes good sex is built on our society’s insane consumption of porn. It’s no secret that the dating lives of the millennial generation are on the decline, and that is in part due to the perpetuation of an intense hookup culture and a devaluing of intimacy. In particular, it is interesting how the mass consumption of pornography has aided in the proliferation of an intense hookup culture.

Some argue that the reason that millennial tend to opt for non-committal relationships is because they are facing many high-pressure situations in regards to their futures- the national economy has plummeted, they’re drowning in student loans, social oppressions are recognized now more than ever, etc.

However, with data suggesting that nearly 70% of teens 15 to 17 years old will come across porn in their youth, it’s evident now more than ever that the casualization of the porn industry is infiltrating the ways that millennial generation will come to make sense of sex and romance.

Dines suggests the most dramatic shift in younger persons behavior in regards to intimate relations with another person is the complete rejection of intimacy, connection, and relationships- as she describes, “sex is what you expect, and sex is what you get.” She ties this casual approach to sex back to the porn industry, asserting that the sex that we see in the porn-film industry is the sex we see in hookups- that is, verification of masculinity and completely devoid of emotional connection.

The recent success of online dating sites has allowed for the millennial generation to further engage in dating scenarios that further their hookup culture. When online dating first emerged, it gained a clear, negative stigma; online dating wasn’t to be taken seriously and oftentimes the relationships that were created on the web were delegitimized. However, I saw the usage of online dating, especially among millennials, to be a social occurrence that was bound to happen.

We live in an incredibly digitized and technologically based society, in which our main social connections are maintained online, in chat rooms, on friend’s Facebook walls, and in their feeds. It was only a matter of time before our ability to maintain friendships transpired into our ability to create new ones on the web. Online dating could even be seen as easier for millennials.

It allows for the ‘messy’ stuff in the relationship to be skipped over; you can find out what a person wants from you and what they are and are not comfortable with without even meeting them. We can find out everything we want to know about someone at the push of a button- it’s convenient.

When you pick a Tinder picture, you pick the ones that are meant to elicit a physical attraction from the person swiping. I’ve gotten the opportunity to scroll through some of my male friend’s Tinder matches and check out just what it is I’m “competing” with, after all my face is just one of several thousand. I see boobs, butts, and half-naked, perfectly maintained bodies.

I see pictures that mimic if not actively try to imitate pictures out of a ‘Playboy’. While women are conforming to these pornographic expectations of how they should look, men are being reminded of the pornographic content they have already viewed since they were in their pre-teens. They are reminded of the scenarios and the naked bodies and the oily skin, and they want their chance to stand in the spotlight.

And while many forms of millennial, online dating mimic pornographic expectations and assist in the purveyance of hookup culture, pornography has affected our conceptions of human sexuality. According to a report commissioned by Congress, over 70 million individuals access and view porn each week, and about 11 million of those individuals are younger than 18. It’s safe to assume that with the average age a person loses their virginity in U.S. at 17 years of age (under the assumption that virginity qualifies the absence of penetrative sex practices), most individuals are exposed to pornographic material before they actually experience sexual intercourse. The exposure to pornographic content greatly misleads viewers, a largely male-based audience.

In heterosexual relationships, young boys grow into men that believe that women genuinely enjoy and receive great pleasure from participating in borderline abusive, hard-core, and subservient sexual roles (i.e. "gonzo" porn). Their increased exposure to pornographic content sexually destructs them, leads them to have distorted conceptions of heterosexuality, and to go into their sexually active lives de-prioritizing female satisfaction and upholding the values of male ejaculation that their pornographic education taught them.

‘Sex and the City’ is an excellent example of forced female subservience as a result of the casualization of porn-reflected sex. The character, Samantha Jones, is disguised as being an excellent role model for female sexuality and experimentation; she never shies away from her sex life and is very open about her promiscuity.

While most viewers see her as an idol for sexual liberation, I see her as one of the most well masked examples of female subjugation to male-preferred porn sex on primetime television. Samantha likes sex, that’s her thing, that’s what she does, and she loves it and all the show’s viewers love her for having sex. However, what most people fail to notice is that even this female sex machine was subject to the atrocities of porn-culture in the bedroom.

Her sex life was characterized by the approval of men, the scenes that showcase her involvement in hookup sex and porn scenarios rarely showcase her experience and enjoyment but always find a way to hone in on the facial reactions, body movements, and sounds of the men she is with. Her sex life was always characterized by the men she was sleeping with and her character comments on how she is “competing” with the younger women who are willing to throw their legs up and try anything to keep the attention of a man.

And that’s the primary indicator of how dependent Samantha’s character was on men, she kept her mind open to sex and she evolved as sex evolved, all to keep the interest of the men, not always for herself. Her pleasure and orgasm would come as a result of the man’s satisfaction. The character of Samantha Jones exemplifies how even when women are given symbols of female sexual liberation and empowerment, they are still exposed to them within the guidelines of pornography.


It is evident that the rise of the porn industry has impacted our society’s conceptions of sex and has permanently altered our perceptions of what is normative and accepted within sexual relations. And while porn may act as a one-stop shop for individuals to make sense of their sexuality from a younger age than ever before, it is also proving to be incredibly destructive in our ability to connect with each other individually.

Most of all, I think that we shouldn’t be asking ourselves why it is that pornography has gained such a large viewership over the years, but rather, we should be trying to figure out what has happened to our society that we have become so susceptible to the dehumanization and desensitization of sexuality.

Unfortunately, the answer to that is not just a click away.


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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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