Pornography

Warning:  Explicit content.  Viewer discretion advised.
 

"Porn-viewing men tell me that there’s no cruelty in a woman being penetrated in aggressive fashion by three men who call her a whore throughout the sex. They tell me that when five men thrust into a woman’s mouth to the point she gags, slap a woman in the face with their penises, and ejaculate into her mouth and demand that she swallow it all, there’s no degradation ... 
     To see the woman as a person deserving of respect - to see her as fully human - would interfere with getting it up and getting it off.”  

- Robert Jensen, author of Getting Off: Pornography and the end of masculinity.

The saturation of porn

Pornography is big business.  Technological advances, expansion of Internet-compatible devices, and relentless ploys by pornographers to market their material has led to a saturation of porn in western culture

Material depicting explicit sex acts associated with negotiation, desire, emotions and feelings has been increasingly replaced by more extreme material, to titillate, to increase profits and to meet consumer demand.  "Hardcore" porn is no longer fringe, but mainstream. 

Despite "niche" porn markets extending to a wider range of audiences including women, the vast majority of mainstream heterosexual porn is made by men, for men - from "lads' mags" and "men's interest" magazines, to "hardcore" and "gonzo" porn widely found in movies and videos/DVDs.

Is porn shaping society?  If so, what does porn tell us about men, women, sex and relationships?

 

Men "unpacking" porn

Unsurprisingly, most ardent campaigners against the pornography industry historically have been women. Increasingly however men have begun "unpacking" porn, its messages, and its impact.

So what are these MEN saying about mainstream heterosexual pornography?  Click on each statement to find out.

• Tells lies about women.

  • “Women are always, in the words of the average internet site, ‘hot and ready’, eager to please. Yet in real life, by contrast, men find women are anything but: they have higher job status, they demand that they be sexually satisfied, and they are increasingly opting to combine career and motherhood.” (Edward Marriott)

• Elevates or restores male authority; rejects a gender equitable world.

  • “Unlike real life, the pornographic world is a place in which men find their authority unchallenged and in which women are their willing, even grateful servants. ‘The illusion is created,’ as one male writer on pornography puts it, ‘that women are really in their rightful place and that there is, after all, no real and serious challenge to male authority’.” (Edward Marriott)
     
  • “Pornotopia is the place where men can get even, where women get what they 'deserve' and the guys never have to be tested, or face rejection. And so the pornographic universe becomes a place of homosocial solace, a refuge from the harsh reality of a more gender equitable world than has ever existed. It's about anger at the loss of privilege – and an effort to restore men's unchallenged authority.” (Michael Kimmel, in Cochrane) 
     
  • "Even as it foments that desperate, debilitating desire and reinforces the sense that beauty is forever remote, pornography at the same time enacts a kind of political theater that restores men’s sense of mastery over women: that a guy can commission a woman to perform acts he regards as servile and degrading renews his faith in his categorical superiority."  (Rob Horning) 

• Undermines sexual intimacy between men and women.

  • “The porn industry has an obvious interest in undermining intimacy between men and women – if couples were to find sexual fulfillment together, the market would plummet.” (Jackson Katz, author of ‘The Macho Paradox’, in Cochrane)
     
  • "Pornography, in other words, is a lie. It peddles falsehoods about men, women and human relationships. In the name of titillation, it seduces vulnerable, lonely men - and a small number of women - with the promise of intimacy, and delivers only a transitory masturbatory fix." (Edward Marriott)
     
  • “Pornography doesn’t draw on the emotions most commonly connected with sex -- love and affection -- because men typically consume pornography specifically to avoid love and affection. So, the pornographers offer men sexual gymnastics and circus acts that are saturated with cruelty toward women; they sexualize the degradation of women. While most of us would agree those are negative emotions, they are powerful emotions. And in a patriarchal society in which men are conditioned to see themselves as dominant over women, such cruelty and degradation fit easily into men’s notions about sex and gender. ” (Robert Jensen)
     
  • "Pornography’s main function is to remake male libido into a selfish, isolating, distancing desire for ownership and property collecting and to make women into that willing property. In this it epitomizes what consumer culture achieves by and large, encouraging us to think of ourselves as the sum of what we own rather than what we do and whom we do it with. In the porno-consumer world, we’re always doing ourselves, and we’re always doing it alone." (Rob Horning)

• Is a parody of love - fuels anger, aggression and domination.

  • “This opposition to intimacy helps explain why porn has become so cruel, degrading and humiliating – why, to quote Martin Amis, it has become ‘a parody of love’ addressing itself ‘to love's opposites, which are hate and death’. Now, if pornography went towards emotion that was about mutuality, respect and egalitarian relationships then men wouldn't buy it, because they're using porn to avoid those aspects of sexuality. So the route to maximising market share involves including emotions that men are more willing to accept in a commercial sex relationship – anger, aggression and domination." (Robert Jensen, in Cochrane)
     
  • "It’s a mistake to think restricting pornography restricts sexual expression and inhibits one’s sexual potential. After all, pornography exists precisely to accomplish those ends. By commodifying sexuality, porn streamlines it; it’s sex made convenient ... But genuine sexuality, like all forms of intimacy and interpersonal communication, is authenticated by its difficulty, by the happy struggle it requires in order for it to sanctify deep human relationships. In the drive to make intimacy efficient, we destroy the inefficiencies that define it—the “wasteful” sacrifices of time and energy necessary to understand and respect another person. In fact, it’s likely that we only recognize that we might be 'in love' when we notice a sudden willingness to be inefficient."  (Rob Horning)

• Is misogynistic, and increasingly cruel and degrading to women.

"Put bluntly, in pornography, women are reduced to three holes and two hands. In pornography, women are reduced to the parts of their bodies that can sexually stimulate men. Women are not really sex-objects (which at least implies they are human) but more f**k-objects, simply things to be penetrated."

"Pornography's central ideological message is not hard to discern: Women exist for the sexual pleasure of men, in whatever form men want that pleasure, no matter what the consequences for women. It's not just that women exist for sex, but that they exist for the sex that men want."

"A major theme in pornography is that women are different from men and enjoy pain, humiliation, degradation; they don’t deserve the same humanity as men because they are a different kind of creature. In pornography, it’s not just that women want to get f***ed in degrading fashion, but that they need it. Pornography ultimately tells stories about where women belong -- underneath men."

"Despite naïve (or disingenuous) claims about pornography as a vehicle for women's sexual liberation, the bulk of mass-marketed pornography is incredibly sexist. From the ugly language used to describe women, to the positions of subordination, to the actual sexual practices themselves - pornography is relentlessly misogynistic. As the industry "matures" the most popular genre of films, called "gonzo," continues to push the limits of degradation of, and cruelty toward, women. Directors acknowledge they aren't sure where to take it from the current level."

(Robert Jensen)

• Alleviates fears about male performance.

  • “In pornography, unlike in real life, there is no criticism, real or imagined, of male performance.” (Edward Marriott)

• Discourages self-critique.

  • "The culture doesn't want to look at it.  A lot of it simply has to do with the number of liberal-left men who use porn themselves and don't want to engage in self-critique . . . And when it comes to heterosexual women: do you really want to know what your boyfriend or husband is using?  If your husband is masturbating to images of women being degraded, can you really believe it when he says, 'Oh, I don't think of you that way'?  Now that would be naive." (Robert Jensen, in Cochrane)

• Affects how men view the world.

  • “One obvious problem for many porn users is the conflict between their stated belief in equality and respect for women, and the material they're watching in private. McCormack Evans says he used to exist in a "kind of double consciousness. For that half hour when I was watching porn I thought, 'This is separate from my life, it won't affect how I view the world.' But then I realised it did." (Matt McCormack Evans, in Cochrane)
     
  •  “It can also leave porn consumers with sexual scripts and images they can't forget, and can't resist calling to mind during sex. ‘I can't get the pictures of anal sex out of my head when having sex, and I am not really focusing on the girl but on the last anal scene I watched . . . I started looking at porn before I had sex, so porn is pretty much how I learned about sex.’" (Dan, in Dines, in Cochrane)

• Affects men’s intimate relationships.

  • "There have been too many times when I have guiltily resorted to impersonal fantasy because the genuine love I felt for a woman wasn't enough to convert feelings into performance. And in those sorry, secret moments, I have resented deeply my lifelong indoctrination into the aesthetic of the centrefold." (US sociologist Harry Brod, in Marriott)
     
  • "The untruths [porn] taught me on top of this disappointment - that women are always available, that sex is about what a man can do to a woman - I am only now, more than two decades on, finally succeeding in unlearning." (Edward Marriott)
     
  • "... arguments for pornography simply extend the same arguments used to defend consumerism: it grants audience agency, it enables people to discover who they are, it permits subversive nodes of resistance within a climate of conformity, it provokes passion and fulfills desires and enables creativity.  But actually, pornography achieves just the opposite. It stifles the truly creative impulses that lead people to engage with each other. Through porn, the mystery of eros is tamed into a zeal for collectibles." (Rob Horning)

• Affects how men view not only women but also girls.

  • “… what really shocked me was an experience at a good friend of mine’s place one night, whilst over for dinner. My two little boys were sharing a bath with their 8 year old daughter and I went in to get the kids out and changed and all of a sudden, my mind started bringing up sexualised thoughts upon seeing a naked 8 year old girl. I was so shocked I walked straight out ... They are not thoughts that I have ever in my life even entertained, and yet, there it was, out of nowhere. But not really out of nowhere. I now realise that a lot of the porn I had been looking at depicts women with no pubic hair – not something I even particularly like, or had even noticed…but, it had, unbeknownst to me, become etched in my mind.” Male guest writer, April 21, 2011 in "Unexpected effects of pornography use."
     
  • “I’ve looked at so much porn, I’m scared to change my baby daughter’s diapers.” First-time father to best friend, a Stop Demand supporter
     

• Impacts negatively on children, particularly boys.

  • “A social worker who counsels children who have problems with their sexual behaviour, says he has encountered children as young as eight ‘who have got into a mess as a result of ideas from watching pornography. At that age, what they see is almost an endorsement of the behaviour, because they're watching images of adults [authority figures] doing something – although the watching tends to happen in secret, so they know it's wrong as well. But it's often a case at that age of see it, do it. Pornography reinforces the wider media-led messages about the roles of men and women and can also reinforce a particular attitude towards sex, an attitude that is devoid of trust, caring, and, in the worst cases, consent . . . [Boys] are learning that sex is what men and boys do to – rather than with – their partners.’” (Dr Andrew Durham, social worker, in Cochrane)

• Impacts on sexual violence.

  • “It is impossible not to believe pornography plays a part in sexual violence. As we constantly confront sex offenders about their behaviour, they display a wide range of distorted views that they then use to excuse their behaviour, justify their actions, blame the victim and minimise the effect of their offending. They seek to make their own behaviour seem normal, and interpret the behaviour of the victim as consent, rather than a survival strategy. Pornography legitimises these views.” (Ray Wire, UK specialist in sexual crimes, in Cochrane)

• Tells lies about men.

  • “The [porn] industry works from the assumption that the men who consume the vast majority of commercial heterosexual pornography are not really human beings with hearts, minds and souls... Pornography assumes not that a man has a penis but that a man is nothing more than a penis.” (Robert Jensen)
 
To read more, click on the relevant author - Cochrane - HorningJensen - Marriott
 

The Hazards Of Porn - full poster here Do You Know The Difference? - full poster here

 

 

 

Countless men assert a "right" to seek out and masturbate to images of women being sexually degraded, verbally abused, penetrated by multiple men, ejaculated on, and treated as less-than-human. 

The impact on women and girls is wide-reaching. Wives, girlfriends, sisters, daughters, grand-daughters, nieces and even mothers (MILF - "Mother I'd like to f**k" being a popular porn genre) are robbed of their right to live and work in a world free of degrading comments, unwanted leering, sexual innuendo and harassment. 

Many women and girls are forced to "put up with" situations in which they feel uncomfortable, intimidated, unsafe or threatened by porn-consuming men - from being "undressed" by the male gaze or jeered at, leered at or fantasised over by male colleagues, "friends", family and strangers - at work, at school, at home and in the community, as they engage in everyday routine activities.

How would you feel if  ...

 

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Men - in their words
"There are two reasons why the [porn industry] exists. The first is obvious, and that’s as masturbatory catharsis for the masses. The other is what I refer to as vicarious revenge. It’s a point I continued to bring up as I ejaculated copiously into the face of one beautiful woman after the other in my early days because I was exacting a vicarious revenge for the male viewer who would have liked to have done something like that to the cheerleader that he could never get."

- Bill Margold ('the Renaissance Man of Porn"), veteran porn actor and director

“The thing about [gonzo/hardcore porn] is, there’s only but so many holes, only but so many different types of penetration that can be executed upon a woman. So it’s really hard to say what’s next within gonzo.”

- Lexington Steele, porn actor

"Soldiers are raping a cute little teen in these military rape videos. This is shocking rape porn at its best and it combines brutal rape, military rape, teen rape, anal rape and uniform rape.
     I loved these videos and hope you will two [sic], cos these two soldiers almost killed this teen with their dicks!”

 

- Online porn consumer/reviewer, posted March 10, 2009

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Men - in their words...

"You know, there's a porn store for Android [phones using Google's software]. You can download porn, your kids can download porn. That's a place we don't want to go – so we're not going to go there..." 

"Yep, freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom."

- The late Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder and CEO (article, 17 May 2010)

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Corporates fuelling degradation of women

In November 2011, European budget airline Ryanair announced plans to launch an app so passengers can watch porn on their iPads or smartphones while inflight. article

   

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Corporates fuelling respect for women

Apple is a market leader in corporate responsiblity in keeping porn off its products. Its developer agreement and app approval process ensures that "applications are reliable, perform as expected, and are free of explicit and offensive material". more

Luxury US hotel chain Omni stopped offering porn pay-per-view movies in its rooms back in 1999. "The anticipated loss in revenue demonstrates the company's commitment to the issue," said owner and chairman Robert Rowling. The chain had previously removed porn magazines from all gift shops at its properties. article 

    

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The type of speech that is typically found within much popular mainstream heterosexual porn is no secret.  Porn teasers, advertisements and DVD covers speak for themselves.  As Jensen (2005) notes,

"... misogyny is not an idiosyncratic feature of a few fringe films... woman-hating is central to contemporary pornography. Take away every video in which a woman is called a bitch, a c**t, a slut, or a whore, and the shelves would be nearly bare. Take away every DVD in which a woman becomes the target of a man's contempt, and there wouldn't be much left. Mass-marketed pornography doesn't celebrate women and their sexuality, but instead expresses contempt for women and celebrates the charge of expressing that contempt sexually."  

Admissions by male directors and actors (examples above) reveal that this contempt is intended to reach
well beyond individual female porn actors to a much wider target:  women, the female and the feminine.

 
Most countries draw the legal line at sexual material that involves children, recognising that such publications invariably are records of actual sex crimes against children. 

More devastating than the initial acts of rape and violation, can be the knowledge for victims that their abuse is being relived online, masturbated over and "enjoyed" by countless men around the world. Their ongoing victimisation is endless.

An indictment on the human species, particularly the male species, this global industry would not exist but for male demand.  To meet an insatiable demand, victims have become younger; sex acts more extreme.  Lives of raped children, infants and even babies are changed forever.

 

FAQs

Click on the question below for the answer.

What about women or couples who use pornography?

  • Estela Welldon, psychoanalyst and author of the classic text Mother, Madonna, Whore (in Marriott article)

"When couples use porn together there is 'an illusory sense that they are getting closer together. Then they film themselves having sex and feel outside themselves. This dehumanising aspect is an important part of pornography. It dehumanises the other person, the relationship, and any intimacy.'"
 

  • BB, author of "Women and Pornography: My Story".  Excerpt:

''Yes, women use pornography, but the fact that women use pornography doesn’t make the dangers of pornography disappear. Rather, it brings them into sharper focus. Women who are using pornography are getting high on the same sense of control that men are. Women who are using pornography are degrading the women in their mind and hating them for the same reasons that men are. The difference is that women will many times wake up of their own accord. Since we ARE women, we see the degradation and we, just as men, train ourselves to get off to that degradation. Unlike men however, we realize that we ARE women and sometimes, oftentimes, this realization hits us when the men we’re with begin to want to degrade US in the same way that WE are degrading the women in our minds, or the women on our computers or on our TV’s.

...  That moment comes for many women. That moment when their partners ask for the things that the porn stars did. And we recognize the trap that we’ve laid for ourselves.

That’s what happened with me. Soon my husband began to ask me to do the same things for him that the porn star was doing. What could I say then? I mean, after all, I was watching the same damn thing he was and he knew it. If I didn’t do those things then I would have to admit to myself that they were degrading and I’d see the paradox, I’d see the holes in my illusion.  I’d be forced to see that I wouldn’t want those things done to ME, and yet I wanted to see them done to other people.

So I did them. I did them and I tried to pretend that I liked them. I tried to act like the porn star because I was invested. Soon however, I began to see JUST how horrible it felt to have ... "

Full article here. Warning: explicit content and language. 

 

Check out some studies, reports and books on men and pornography.

 

Check out organisations that are speaking out against pornography.

 

Check out our Pornography News Updates and stay informed.

 

Stop Demand's focus is on the cumulative, endemic gendered sexual violence, sexual exploitation and sexual denigration committed by men against women and (mostly girl) children around the world.  Countless lives are shattered! 
It is not inevitable.  It CAN stop.

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