Porn: Pro and Con

When it comes to pornography feminists are divided. Where do you stand?

Pro-porn feminists

Feminists who call themselves “sex-positive” say sexual freedom is essential to women’s freedom. They feel patriarchy represses women’s sexual expression, and say porn can liberate through challenging conventional notions that women should be monogamous, romantic, and that sex should be tied to procreation. They do not believe that laws written in a male-dominated society would serve women’s interests.

 Anti-porn feminists

Feminists who oppose pornography say it turns women into objects, promotes misogyny, eroticizes male dominance, and leads to violence against women. As one anti-porn blogger put it, “instead of being portrayed as individuals, as human beings, they are treated as fragmented body parts; women, men and children are depicted and used as holes, cunts, living sex aids, receptacles for the depositing of waste fluids.”

Does pornography cause violence against women?  

Studies are not conclusive.

Researchers asked male volunteers to administer electric shocks to women, under the guise of providing feedback in learning experiments. Men who had been exposed to violent and humiliating pornography were more aggressive in administering shocks.

Men who were shown violent and humiliating pornography also developed attitudes that were closer to those of rapists’. But the effects evaporated after a couple of months. Of course, men who view violent and humiliating pornography probably don’t wait a couple of months between viewing.

But we still don’t know whether pornography causes actual rape.

On the other hand, correlation studies often find that the more pornography is consumed, the lower the rate of rape. Does pornography decrease rape? Other factors could be in play. Over the last 20 years:

  • pornography consumption increased due to the Internet
  • women’s power and status rose because of increased opportunity in our society
  • the rate of rape decreased according to Justice Department victimization surveys

Has rape decreased because of higher pornography consumption or because women’s power and status has broadly risen despite porn?

Civil Libertarian Feminists

Other feminists believe that pornography is offensive and even harmful, but they feel that protection of individual rights and freedoms is more important.

What should be done?

Should pornography be celebrated as “pro-sex” feminists believe? Should laws be imposed against pornography as many anti-porn feminists advocate, and as civil libertarians fear? Should those who are concerned about negative effects of pornography turn to dialogue and education rather than the law?

Where do you come down on the issue?

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on August 31, 2010, in feminism, gender, men, pornography, sex, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Pornography destroys men. They get hooked on it and can not be satisfied by normal sex. Unless you have seen what porno has become – You can not possibly know just how degrading, demeaning and humiliating it is to women.

    Porn is not what it was 50 years ago, it is now not enough to have sex and look at the women’s parts — now the woman must be hurt, urinated on defacated on and humilated in every way imaginable all while smiling and seeming to love it and beg for more.

    Any studies that point to this as a positive quite simply are skewed. In my opinion, the deterioration in respect for women in our court systems are the direct result of men growing up on porn!

  2. I think the porn that is available today is gross and should go the way of the dinosaur. Having said that, if porn were more female friendly (i.e. consensual sex with a partner, foreplay etc) it could be a good thing for society.

  3. There is a great difference between sex tapes and PORN. Sex tapes are more female friendly and can enhance as you describe- but PORN especially what passes as PORN today is designed to humiliate, degrade and hurt women.

  4. As a woman who had maintained a career in adult-entertainment over the course of several years, I may have a uniquely positive viewpoint in terms of pornography. From my perspective, I can agree that YES some pornographic films are incredibly damaging in their portrayal of women in terms of exaggerated stereotypes, promotion of violence, and blatant objectification.
    HOWEVER, these are stories (nomatter how trite) openly based in fantasy. The majority of viewers are — hopefully — in touch with reality and enjoy the fiction, as the material often permits the rare opportunity to vicariously live out their own taboo desires through the actors featured, without a need to role-play or enact these scenarios themselves. Should they be deprived of this outlet, it’s reasoned that those ill-of-mind would be more likely to pursue their violent fantasies in real life to achieve the same end result (with more dire consequences).
    Women too openly enjoy pornography, often with a distinct preference for plotlines and racy scenarios, and find that in many cases they better achieve satisfactory release when masturbating to their favorite film.

  1. Pingback: Men Are Naturally Attracted To Unnatural Women | BroadBlogs

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