Does the Porn Industry Really Care About Empowering Women?

By KC

One of the biggest misconceptions about pornography is that it’s only a “guy issue,” but we know that it’s definitely not an issue that only guys deal with. Statistics actually show that more and more women are watching pornography on a regular basis. Surprised?

The reality is, women are sexual beings that can be drawn in by pornography just like men. And like guys, sometimes this natural attraction to porn can develop into a full-blown struggle. In fact, we have gotten thousands of emails from struggling girls and women that are dealing with compulsively watching or reading pornographic material.

Related: Why You Can’t Consistently Fight Sexual Abuse Without Also Fighting Porn

But porn is also a problem for women in another way—it objectifies, humiliates, degrades, and exploits them unapologetically, while the industry claims to simultaneously be a champion for women. (Porn also does this to men in different ways, but let’s talk about women for a moment.)

Exploitation or empowerment?

According to the numbers on the world’s most popular porn site review of 2017, one of the search terms that defined that year was “porn for women.” It increased by 1,400% on Pornhub since 2016, and in the massive porn site’s breakdown, it’s labeled it as the number one search that defined 2017. Cited in their breakdown is “sex expert” Dr. Laurie Betito, who works for them, saying this is a sign that women “are finally being heard.”

“From the ‘Me Too’ movement to prominent females…on the world stage, women are feeling more empowered and they have found their voice. [This search term] is a sign of things to come,” Dr. Betito said.

Related: The Disturbing Irony Behind Pornhub’s “Anti-Domestic Violence” Campaign

But we’re more than a little skeptical at this supposed empowerment victory speech for women especially considering that Dr. Betito works for Pornhub, making her academic opinion a possible conflict of interest. Also, we’re not entirely buying their celebration of female empowerment, considering how Pornhub’s average female viewership makes up only 26-29% of visitors to the site…so it’s largely not women who are seeking out this porn category (and we detail why that is in this piece).

But more than one person’s opinion, here’s why “porn for women” is not exactly a win, all around, and how it’s clear that Pornhub doesn’t wholly make an effort to fight against abuse and assault.

“Fighting” assault while also romanticizing it

The same #MeToo movement Dr. Betito referenced is all about speaking up about the realities of sexual harassment and sexual assault, both of which are common plotlines in porn videos—even those found on Pornhub. For example, popular categories include “facial abuse,” “teen crying,” and “extreme brutal gang bang.”

Do these categories sound like a “win” for women?

Related: Does Porn Really Decrease Rates Of Sexual Assault?

Consider another popular term searched in 2017, “cheerleader.” This category idealizes the problematic sexual fantasy of a teenage girl, right? Here’s what Pornhub’s Dr. Betito had to say in response to this trend in Pornhub’s 2017 report:

“What male has never had a fantasy involving cheerleaders, a teacher, or a female auto mechanic? Virtual reality porn allows them to indulge their fantasies in a risk-free and non-threatening manner,” she said.

Let’s break down what that statement totally misses.

To assume all men watch porn or fantasize about minors is demeaning, and inaccurate. What’s more, engaging in these fantasies involving minors is not “risk-free” and “non-threatening” — research shows how consuming hardcore porn can lead to violence and even softcore porn fuels acceptance of rape culture. That doesn’t sound risk-free or non-threatening, does it?

Related: The Weinstein Effect: Selective Hearing When It Comes To Sexual Exploitation

But wait, there’s more. A study done a few years ago analyzed 304 popular porn films and found that 88% of them contained physical violence and 49% of them included verbal aggression. And the women in the films, the majority of them recipients of the abuse, were shown as either neutral or enjoying the abuse.

Again, we ask: does any of this sound like a “win” for women, or men?

Exploitation is not empowerment

Porn companies may sell the idea that they’re all about empowerment, but the reality shows the opposite: clearly, they are significant parts of the problem.

The vast majority of porn—violent or not—portrays men as powerful and in charge; while women are submissive and obedient. [1] Watching scene after scene of dehumanizing submission makes it start to seem normal. [2] It sets the stage for lopsided power dynamics in couple relationships and the gradual acceptance of verbal and physical aggression against women. [3] Research has confirmed that those who consume porn (even if it’s nonviolent) are more likely to support statements that promote abuse and sexual aggression toward women and girls. [4]

Not only this, but also consider how it can be difficult sometimes to tell the difference between what rapists and porn magazines say about women. A study from the University of Surrey compared quotes from porn magazines and actual rapists serving time for their crimes, and it found that they use almost identical language.

Related: How Consuming Porn Can Lead To Violence

Thanks to the growing field of research we know that consuming porn changes the brain, it can even become addictive, affect sexual tastes, negatively impact relationships (both romantic and otherwise), increase risk for sexual dysfunction, encourage violence, fuel sex trafficking, promote gender inequality and discrimination, and the list goes on and on.

Does any of this sound like a win for anyone, men or women?

Pornography is a woman issue in that women also struggle with being sucked in by pornography, but it also is a woman issue in that women are constantly degraded and exploited by companies like Pornhub while being told that they’re supported, appreciated, and empowered. Clearly, the facts stack up and we see how this isn’t true. Don’t buy the lies.

Citations

[1] DeKeseredy, W. (2015). Critical Criminological Understandings Of Adult Pornography And Women Abuse: New Progressive Directions In Research And Theory. International Journal For Crime, Justice, And Social Democracy, 4(4) 4-21. Doi:10.5204/Ijcjsd.V4i4.184; Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn…I Wouldn’t Know Half The Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study Of Pornography Use Among A Sample Of Urban, Low-Income, Black And Hispanic Youth. Journal Of Sex Research, 52(7), 736-746. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.960908; Layden, M. A. (2010) Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In Stoner, J. & Hughes, D. (Eds.), The Social Cost Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57-68). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute; Ryu, E. (2008). Spousal Use Of Pornography And Its Clinical Significance For Asian-American Women: Korean Woman As An Illustration. Journal Of Feminist Family Therapy, 16(4), 75. Doi:10.1300/J086v16n04_05; Shope, J. H. (2004). When Words Are Not Enough: The Search For The Effect Of Pornography On Abused Women. Violence Against Women, 10(1), 56-72. Doi:10.1177/1077801203256003
[2] Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn…I Wouldn’t Know Half The Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study Of Pornography Use Among A Sample Of Urban, Low-Income, Black And Hispanic Youth. Journal Of Sex Research, 52(7), 736-746. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.960908; Weinberg, M. S., Williams, C. J., Kleiner, S., & Irizarry, Y. (2010). Pornography, Normalization And Empowerment. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 39 (6) 1389-1401. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9592-5; Doring, N. M. (2009). The Internet’s Impact On Sexuality: A Critical Review Of 15 Years Of Research. Computers In Human Behavior, 25(5), 1089-1101. Doi:10.1016/J.Chb.2009.04.003; Zillmann, D. (2000). Influence Of Unrestrained Access To Erotica On Adolescents’ And Young Adults’ Dispositions Toward Sexuality. Journal Of Adolescent Health, 27, 2: 41–44. Retrieved From Https://Www.Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov/Pubmed/10904205
[3] Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In J. Stoner And D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Berkel, L. A., Vandiver, B. J., & Bahner, A. D. (2004). Gender Role Attitudes, Religion, And Spirituality As Predictors Of Domestic Violence Attitudes In White College Students. Journal Of College Student Development, 45:119–131. Doi:10.1353/Csd.2004.0019 ; Allen, M., Emmers, T., Gebhardt, L., And Giery, M. A. (1995). Exposure To Pornography And Acceptance Of The Rape Myth. Journal Of Communication, 45(1), 5–26. Doi:10.1111/J.1460-2466.1995.Tb00711.X
[4] Hald, G. M., Malamuth, N. M., And Yuen, C. (2010). Pornography And Attitudes Supporting Violence Against Women: Revisiting The Relationship In Nonexperimental Studies. Aggression And Behavior, 36(1), 14–20. Doi:10.1002/Ab.20328; Berkel, L. A., Vandiver, B. J., And Bahner, A. D. (2004). Gender Role Attitudes, Religion, And Spirituality As Predictors Of Domestic Violence Attitudes In White College Students. Journal Of College Student Development, 45(2), 119–131. Doi:10.1353/Csd.2004.0019; Zillmann, D. (2004). Pornografie. In R. Mangold, P. Vorderer, & G. Bente (Eds.) Lehrbuch Der Medienpsychologie (Pp. 565–85). Gottingen, Germany: Hogrefe Verlag; Zillmann, D. (1989). Effects Of Prolonged Consumption Of Pornography. In D. Zillmann & J. Bryant, (Eds.) Pornography: Research Advances And Policy Considerations (P. 155). Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates.

The post Does the Porn Industry Really Care About Empowering Women? appeared first on Fight the New Drug.