How Pornography Can Combat Social Stigmas and Stereotypes

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We’ve all probably heard the “pornography is detrimental to society” speech. From parents, mass-media, or school counselors it seems everyone is warning children and teens to stay away from pornography because of how it portrays women in society. Words like “degrading” and “objectifying” are almost always a part of such discussions. First of all, it should be clear I am not arguing that pornography is good for women, in fact this is a valid issue that must be addressed. But the fact of the matter is that not all pornography is demeaning to women. Pornography is a major social taboo; it is not uncommon for people to feel “porn-guilt” or shameful feelings from watching pornography. After all, the idea that even watching sex or nudity in video or in picture form is a sign of being sexist and disrespectful is hammered into our heads from a young age. But what if I told you the answer to gender inequality may be in watching more pornography?

 

Some anti-pornography groups, such as the CPC, describe all pornography as harmful to society.

 

Pornography is “propaganda against women” and “damaging to them as individuals as well as to women as a group.” – The Campaign Against Pornography

 

 

They argue for the removal of all suggestive images of females, whether in stores or online, as it is damaging to females in society. It is not difficult to understand why this group is rather unpopular among men, 68 percent of whom watch pornography and who are 543% more likely to watch it than females. They do raise valid points, but by feeding this industry are all 68% of men who watch porn shameful contributors to the misogynistic society we currently live in?

 

The answer is no, and the reason “porn-shamers” such as the CPC are wrong is because they are categorizing all pornography as one massive, anti-women, misogynist genre. They are only addressing the specific pornography where women are taking on the submissive role, and not clearly giving consent to their male partner. This, however, is not the case. The reason “porn-shamers” out there are incorrect is because they assume all pornography to be the same. So yes, some of those 68 percent of men who watch porn are contributing to the anti-women, sexist society we live in where.

 

The CPC gives an example of a pornographic scene in which there are two lesbians in a bed with a man to make their case. This is clearly a sexist scene; the women are performing for the man’s pleasure and he is taking the dominant role by having the appearance that he selected these specific women to do this and he is giving orders to them. Agreed, this is probably what most porn looks like and it is obviously not helpful to women and our society. In fact, pornography such as this contributes to a heightened amount of deviant sexual practices such as rape when it is exposed to children 14 years of age or younger.

 

It is quite apparent how scenes such as these can impact society with current studies and social learning theories explaining the psychology behind the negative impact they can have. Not all pornography is as degrading and horribly objectifying as this, however. There is a spectrum of pornography. And believe it or not, there exists pornography where videos of naked women can actually be beneficial to society and contribute to a more feminist world.

 

Such genres are labeled “feminist porn.” Feminist porn varies greatly from the genres of which the CPC speaks. From a camera angle altered in order to focus on female consent instead of male pleasure, to dialogue differences which clearly show that the women are agreeing to the sexual actions and even taking charge by being more dominant, feminist porn is a safe and socially progressive genre.

 

“The goal of feminist pornography is to empower its performers through ethical work practices (fair pay, consent) and its viewers through depictions of sexuality that differ from the norm”- Tristan Taormino

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Pornography, when produced in a safe and feminist manner can actually benefit women in society. The social learning theory and mirroring does not just have to apply to sexist pornography where the woman is clearly depicted as being submissive or humiliated. When watching feminist pornography people will mirror the actions they see and incorporate them into society. For instance, viewers can understand that sex is not okay unless given clear consent from the woman, something that feminist pornography seeks to do and in doing so combat the sexual stereotypes which currently exist. Furthermore, female friendly pornography defies the stereotype that women are used for the pleasure of men. This genre is instead about the egalitarianism that exists in sex and how both the woman and the man are able to enjoy the experience while neither one needs to play a dominant role or the domination goes back and forth.

 

The answer to creating a more sexually equal society is not to ban all pornography. With this high percentage of people watching it, pornography is not going way. We can however, make sure people watch socially progressive genres. In fact, perhaps if everyone began watching, society would be more equal than ever.

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4 comments

  1. reedmelchionda · January 11, 2016

    Wow, this is such an eye opening blog! It definitely seems to mirror the ongoing “feminist usurpation” in which traditionally misogynistic aspects of society have been reevaluated to be seen as actually promoting gender equality, rather than deterring from it. Just yesterday I read a blog about Nicki Minaj’s new song Anaconda, and although it has received scathing reviews, the blogger highlighted how it was actually an empowerment to women because Nicki is freely and independently asserting her body rights as a female. This seems to mirror your point about how porn can be uplifting for women as long as it is consensual and doesn’t show women’s submissiveness. What intrigues me even more is how you stated that not all porn is “one massive anti-women misogynist genre,” and I cannot help but relate this to yet another blog I read about rap music and how the blogger concluded the same about rap. It seems as if this is a universal trend that is starting to sweep media that was traditionally thought of as solely misogynist!

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  2. mt145678 · January 12, 2016

    Jonah,
    Amazing post! It is not easy to counteract such a fiercely debated argument such as the benefit, or lack thereof, of watching porn. However, you took this post in such an interesting direction by showing us readers how breaking the social stigma of watching porn could benefit society! When most people think of porn, it is hard for them to imagine it being of any benefit to females since it can portray them in degrading ways. However, you bring up the idea that porn can show women eagerly expressing consent and that when viewers watch this they can learn, if they tragically do not already know, that consent is a large part of sex; this can ultimately help prevent rape! If you wanted to take his argument further, I think it would be interesting to see if the porn industry could be regulated so that the demeaning porn is outlawed. Overall, great job!
    -Maria Tokarska

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  3. nateosemeha · January 12, 2016

    Jonah,
    I’m not gonna lie, when I first read the the title of the blog I was unsure whether or not I could genuinely accept it as truth. Not only have you changed my mind about the matter but you have convinced me that social stigmas like pornography are implemented at such a young age that it is deemed bad before we give it a chance. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that our blogs are not so different. My blog highlighted how a type of rap done in a specific manner with the specific medium of expression could actually overcome misogyny– a prevalent qualm in the art form. Yours highlights a similar distinction in pornography where it can be beneficial for people to watch it and understand the lessons about sexual equality in entertainment. Very interesting. If people can overcome the stigma of watching pornography and use it as a learning tool, it can be more helpful then we are willing to give it credit for now. Overall, you did an outstanding job relaying your message in a digestable way and even incorporating bits and pieces of comic relief to help truly deliver this powerful message.
    -Nate

    Like

  4. nnennz · January 12, 2016

    This blog is really interesting especially in the sense that it reveals a subject to be far more complex than it has been shown as in society. I like how you acknowledge that there is a portion of pornography that is degrading to women and promotes misogyny, but there is also a portion of pornography that is glanced over and can serve to be empowering to women. I also like how you implemented your motive throughout the blog and used quotes of counter-arguments to help further your own argument. Overall, I think you did a great job with this blog post it is definitely an interesting read.
    Nnenna Ibe

    Like

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