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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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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What We're Witnessing Is One Of Humanity's Biggest Tests–Will We Stand Up Or Stand By?

It's time for a mental overhaul: Turn the volume up on the news, read into the issues, recognize what is wrong.

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As I pushed the button to speed up the stairmaster at the gym, I stared absentmindedly at the TV screens across all of the walls in the cardio section. I breathed heavily as I pressed on and didn't think about what I was watching and seeing. Our joke of a president, wildfires, and babies at the border that broke my heart seemed to fly by as I climbed on and on.

But they were there, in my mind. Like everything else that is wrong. Spinning. I think I've landed myself in the most unfortunate mental space during these Trump years. And here is why.

When Trump was elected, I was a first semester college student, experiencing a whirlwind of my own and then heartbroken to see Hillary nearly fade from view. It was the nightmare I feared for so many months but what was more sickening was the fact that I knew, as a young white woman, it would not hit me as hard as others.

And being in a stressful time, being so young, and seeing something so heart-wrenching, so incredibly cruel, and so concerning happen to the country left me hopeless at first.

If you've read any other pieces I've written, you might have sensed that. You also may have sensed my drive to veer away from that sense of hopelessness and I hope, maybe you felt motivated to step up.

But as I climbed on and on during this stairmaster workout, I felt like I was at the bottom of a very large hole and as I screamed for help, no one could hear me and trying to climb out myself would be useless.

In the Trump era, a girl who was once so enthusiastic and active and empowered, now found herself hopeless and living with a mindset that actions don't actually make a difference. I'd probably tell you otherwise, but this is an honest account of how I feel, and yes, that girl is me.

I'm not a politician, I'm not in a place where I have ample time to give up my job to be an advocate, and I'm finding that as life speeds by, other interests fall in the way of my path. A few years ago, I was that annoying teacher's pet type kid who ran for every student-body election, was in a million clubs, and wrote for the school paper. Back then, I was immersed in my little bubble of high school and felt that my words and my actions could make a difference. Often, they did. Even on the outside, being a leader in my community paid off. But in the adult world, life got overwhelming. And then we were thrown this asshole of a president and suddenly, the news and every part of the world became a battleground – what would he say next, who would he threaten, what would he shock us with, and mostly, what would he reveal about our country through his actions?

Trump supporters have not gone away quietly. They are alive and well in their masses. And the most important thing we can take away from Donald Trump is that, the worst and most nightmarish thing CAN happen in what's supposed to be the greatest nation on Earth (I'd beg to differ but we'll save that for another article) and when it does, we'll be able to see with the utmost clarity who the people of our country are and how deeply-rooted racism, xenophobia, hate, and bigotry really are. And it's a crumbling, sinking, devastating feeling we get from seeing this reality.

I'm not going to lie to you, every time I know of someone in my life or my circle that is a Trump supporter, I'm stuck wondering if they're incredibly, incredibly stupid or if they managed to hide a disgusting truth so well. Don't EVEN get me started on the people who go on and on and on about how they have friends who voted for Trump and friends who voted for Hillary and no matter what they're still friends.

That mentality is weak, that mentality is being a bystander, and that mentality condones evil. I HAD friends who voted for Trump. Note the past tense. They're not a part of my circle now. I prefer to keep the accepting, loving, equality-supporting, and DECENT human beings close. I know I know, how dare I label someone a racist or evil or horrible for a VOTE? Sue me.

Let me remind you, the votes we cast in any election are valuable. Have been fought for. Are still fought for. They are the center, the core, of our democracy. If you valued that so little as to vote for an ORANGE who is applauded for his racism, his hate, and who vows to tear our nation apart, you're not someone I want to associate with.

Something that people take so much pride in through their support for this man is how he "really speaks his mind and says what he thinks,".

When I hear this kind of language, I recall a teammate I used to have. In every bit of honesty, she was one of the most mean and disrespectful people I've met. But she was fast in the boat and did very well. One of the best people on our team. And whenever she said something mean, everyone would make the excuse… "Oh, that's just Sarah,"* or, "She's just like that,". They excuse poor behavior and being a bad person because of a status on a team, just like people excuse Trump's cruelty for him simply "speaking his mind,". And he's not even a star athlete – he a failed businessman and annoying reality TV star who might have some ounce of charisma if you're into that orange, nasty kind of charisma.

These people, who follow him and who believe he's simply speaking a truth that we need to hear, are the biggest problem. They're bystanders to the truth that needs to be heard, that he is a monster. But just like they are bystanders to the problem that sits in the oval office, I feel as though I am a bystander in a different way.

I'm not like them, but as I watch it all unfold and go about my life, I feel that I need to do more. But I also find that I am stifled by the news, the disaster that is unfolding before my eyes, and without much power in being an ordinary citizen that I can see and believe in during these dark times, I say with the saddest honesty that I feel like a bystander too. I'm turning a blind eye, in some ways. And I am part of the problem. We all are. But to what end can we continue under this disgraceful, discouraging, conditions?

By realizing that he's on a path of destruction like a hurricane. And his that truthfully, things may get worse before they get better. And most importantly, the ones we love that are bound to fall victim to his evil policies are going to get hurt. We're coming up on a crucial time where we must have a societal reckoning – how can we be a voice for the voiceless, how can we amplify the oppressed and oppress the hateful voices from the other side? How can we be of action when action seems impossible?

I've chosen to write. And to write until I feel the hope again. But we all can realize that this is the greatest test we've come across, and we're going to fail if we don't come to terms with one thing: This IS wrong. We might not come out in good shape. The people who struggle the most in this country will continue to hurt. And how we think, how we act consequently, how we raise our children, and how we choose to live our lives will determine if we give them a fighting chance.

It's time for a mental overhaul: Turn the volume up on the news, read into the issues, recognize what is wrong.

I'm begging, for every person on the streets tonight, for every toddler stuck at the border, for every family wondering about their fate as a minority in this country. For all of us.

This is not normal, and never will be. America deserves better. Press on.

*Name altered

Cover Image Credit:

https://pixabay.com/en/trump-donald-trump-donald-president-1915253/

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