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Jul 11 2011

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Pornography: A Change in Position – The Reality of Today’s Porn

March 3rd, 2011KayRenee

Activism & Causes, Sex & Gender, Social Commentary

When I consider that pornography is simply the depiction of sexual acts as a means to an end – sexual arousal – I see no wrong in consenting adults engaging in sex acts which are recorded and disseminated for consumption and enjoyment by adults. I strongly believe in autonomy and I’m seriously opposed to preventing adults from exercising their desires, within reason, even if I dislike the behaviors adults choose for themselves. From a theoretical point of view I am not anti-porn. But when I look at pornography from a practical view it becomes clear that pornography, in its current state, is far more sinister than its mere definition.

If you’ve seen heterosexual porn lately – and I have – you’ll likely notice that romance and intimacy are absent. Even the crappy story lines, horrendous background music, and awful acting porn was known for are absent. Producers don’t even bother to create a fantasy for viewers; they simply want to cram as many money shots into a scene as possible. And those money shots usually involve women – including women who look like little girls – being spat on, urinated on, and having penises, fists, arms and random objects inserted into every orifice of their bodies – often simultaneously. This may arouse and satisfy the male performer but it’s evident that the women in these films are in pain.

I recognize that individuals are aroused by different things. We all have our fetishes, preferences, and pain thresholds. But some basic principles of human anatomy hold true. Vaginas, anuses, and mouths are not designed to to sustain enduring brutality (and by brutality I do not simply mean penetration). These cavities have purposes and having tibiae and fibulae inserted into them is not one of the designated purposes. Any adult woman who has had enough pleasurable sexual experiences knows that the tears streaming down the faces of many women performers and the screams that escape them are done out of pain and not overwhelming pleasure.

So how can I not be staunchly against something in theory when all practical evidence suggests that I should be? Why the reluctance? What would it take for me to turn the corner?


On March 1, 2011 I attended a talk at Harvard Kennedy School of Government given by Dr. Gail Dines, anti-porn advocate and author of “Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality“. I entered the event with reluctance to adopt an anti-porn stance. My reservations and dislikes about some aspects of pornography weren’t enough for me to totally against it. But after hearing Dr. Dines discuss her research and speak at length about her conversations and experiences with porn industry and advertising industry executives, porn producers, performers, public health professionals, men who consume porn, and women who are in relationships with these men it would have been virtually impossible to remain unmoved.

I don’t share each of Dr. Dines’ hardened positions on pornography, her level of disdain for capitalism, and I am apprehensive about claims that cannot be, for a number of valid reasons, supported by empirical data. That said, Dr. Dines offers a compelling argument about the connection between pornography and other major industries and the potential public health crisis pornography is helping to fuel. It was impossible not to be alarmed, disgusted, concerned, angry, or saddened while listening to Dr. Dines talk about her research and experiences as an anti-pornography activist.

I want to share some of the most interesting and startling talking points of Dr. Dines’ talk. I’m writing this post and sharing this information (much, though not all, is new to me) because it forced me to reevaluate how my reluctance to take a more hardened stance on pornography only adds to existing problems. I have not yet investigated the following claims (although I do intend to read Dr. Dines’ book and subsequently research and examine some of the claims and arguments she makes) but, if true, they certainly should give everyone reason to be alarmed. I’ve tried my best to summarize the talking points and conversational topics that arose while preserving Dr. Dines’ original message. Here goes:

  • People aged 25+ experienced a society in which print media ruled. The shift from print based media to image based media has had a tremendous impact on socialization.
  • Mass media (imagery) is the key force of socialization in our society. Porn has significant cultural legitimacy and socializes men to accept that the buying, selling and use of women is acceptable.
  • Most American boys view hardcore porn by age 11.
  • Women (not all) are not in the porn industry because they like sex. Most women are in the porn industry because they were exploited. Many women performers admit to not enjoying performing sex acts.
  • The porn industry recognizes that men leave porn sites soon after they have ejaculated. Extensive research is being conducted and strategies are being implemented to increase the likelihood than men will stay on porn sites after ejaculation. This is an important point because the porn industry openly acknowledges that a significant number of men are addicted to porn and the industry wants to capitalize on the addiction by keeping men addicted.
  • The industry has calcified relationships with mainstream and independent film studios (the studios that make all of the movies we see in theaters), television studios, home electronic companies and advertising companies. Th porn industry has products placed throughout many of the movies, print images, and videos we see.
  • The porn industry exerts deliberate and targeted effort into making sure than men don’t have any empathy for the women they see in porn films. For example, many of the labels assigned to women (“dirty skank” “big black booty”, “asian sl*t”, “M.I.L.F”) or the specific sexual acts (“ram it in her ass”, “all three holes”, “wreck the b*tch”, “pound her p***y”, “make her choke”) are specifically implemented to dehumanize women. If men saw these women as mothers, sister, and daughters they would have likely have crises of conscience when considering why they get pleasure from seeing these women dehumanized.
  • The misconception that women have power in porn is patently false. Though a multi-billion dollar/year industry, less than 1% of women of women performers have gone on to produce porn or launch successful careers in mainstream commercial film. Women have virtually no power in porn.
  • The average “shelf-life” of women in the porn industry is approximately 3 months. Most women who begin careers as sex performers can’t endure the physical trauma. Many women who leave the porn industry turn to prostitution or stripping. Women in porn have a high rate of drug abuse.
  • Many women suffer rectal prolapses after being subjected to repetitive rectal trauma. The number of incidents is increasing.
  • Increasing numbers of women performers are developing fecal infections in their throats. Fecal matter is spread from penises inserted into anuses and then inserted into women’s mouths.
  • The porn industry (in heterosexual porn) has an abysmally poor record of implemented safeguards against std contraction (i.e. condom usage) and a poor record of providing basic health care to workers.
  • In African-American/Black/”Ebony” porn, a small group of Black men (performers turned producers) provide most of the financial backing for the vast majority of the films. In recent years, these men have recruited Brazilian women for films because many consumers like the racially ambiguous appearance of many Brazilian women.
  • Black women are overwhelmingly portrayed as animalistic when compared to White and Asian women.
  • Interracial porn – particularly porn that has a Black male performing having sex with a White female performer -makes up a significant share of porn. Dr. Gines suggests that if you consider the historical connotations of Black men having sex with White women or even being interested in White women, it seems evident that Black men are used to debase White women. In a society where Black men are often viewed as dangerous, criminal, and morally corrupt, having Black men dominate White women in porn serves the purpose of making the White women in porn dirty, imorral, and less human thus making it easier for male viewers not to see those White women as human.
  • There is a tremendous increase in porn featuring women who appear to be underage. This is one of the highest grossing genres of pornography. The phenomenon of sexualizing women who appear to be in prepubescent or teenage years has crossed into mainstream print media.
  • Evidence suggests that a number of men who are imprisoned for statutory rape do not have the same pathologies as child molesters and rapists. Evidence suggests that a smaller but significant faction of imprisoned men would not intentionally pursue or have sex with underage girls. Rather, these men are attempting to act out a fantasy with women they believe to be adults.
  • A significant number of men report loss of interest in having sex with their girlfriends, wives, and sexual partners; many of these men admit to expressing anger or frustration that their significant others will not perform certain sexual acts. In addition, a substantial number of women complain that their significant other’s consumption of pornography has had an adverse effect on their relationship.
  • Numerous men have approached or contacted Dr. Dines to confess addictions to pornography and admit that porn has affected their ability to express intimacy with women. These men ask for help with porn addiction.
  • There is a link between pornography and sex trafficking. The porn industry is exceptionally profitable but it’s losing some revenue due to the availability of free porn on the internet. Many sex traffickers in North America and Asia start sex trafficking rings by creating promotional porn. Traffickers enslave women, record them performing sex acts, and upload the video to free porn sites across the internet. The promotional porn is created to draw clientele to additional services.
  • The U.S. is one of the top sex trafficking countries (Americans have the incorrect assumption that sex trafficking only happens in third world countries). San Francisco, Arizona, Ohio, New York, Boston and Portland are major sex-trafficking hubs.

In spite of hearing this information I remained conflicted and I expressed this during the Q&A section of the talk. I explained to Dr. Dines that I have serious concerns about the current state of porn but that I also believed that women should be allowed to express their sexuality through pornography. And though I’ve yet to come across a wide array of porn that doesn’t seem exploitative of women, I told her that I believe that kind of porn is possible. Dr. Dines posed questions to which I had no answer. What would non-exploitative porn look like? Even if women had greater influence in porn what woman is going to say, “Yes, I’ll get naked, have sex with a man, or multiple men, I’ll allow them to spit on me, insert objects into me, on camera, creating a permanent image of myself that can be viewed until eternity just so others can get off? What would that kind of porn look like?”

It’s unreasonable to be unyieldingly passive about something when the negatives overwhelmingly outweigh the positive aspects. It’s insane to defend a hypothetical environment that seems implausible to imagine. For those reasons, my position on pornography has changed. I won’t promise to never again view another piece of pornographic material. That’s unrealistic and dishonest. What I can be certain of is that I’ll never view porn the same way again.

Permanent link to this article: http://porninthevalley.com/2011/07/11/pornography-a-change-in-position-the-reality-of-todays-porn/

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