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February 28, 2009
Male Privilege #7 - Pornography
In Short: Men are provided with widespread access to prostitution-based propaganda that promotes their privilege to destroy the lives of women. Pornography has now spread to mainstream culture, further cementing women into the Sex Class.
Derived From: #1 - Rape #2 - Ownership of Women's Bodies #3 - Prostitution #4 - Privilege of Violence #5 - All Women are Sexual Prospects #6 - Male Gaze #12 - Privilege to Define Women
Exclusive to Men Because: Men are the vast majority of the consumers of pornography. Even when men are the subjects in pornography, it is still billed for consumption by a male audience.
Regardless of audience, pornography is, "verbal or visual material or acts that embody violence, coercion, discrimination, force or brutality on women, men, children, or animals in sexual acts, and represent them in a degrading position." [cite] Thus, pornography trains men in the social standards of male superiority and female dehumanization within the context of Rape Culture. *
Harms: Pornography is, at its core, hate speech. The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that pornography, "harms women personally, harms their right to be equal, affects their security and changes attitudes toward them so they become more subject to violence." As pornography becomes more mainstream, it sets the standards for male and female sexuality. These standards are incredibly dangerous to women, and to civil society. To summarize from Andrea Dworkin:
The sexuality that pornography promotes is the idea that women want to be hurt, forced, abused, raped, battered, kidnapped, maimed, humiliated, shamed, and defamed. Porn makes misogyny sexy: it makes domination, hierarchy, violence, and hate feel like sex. Pornography encourages violence against women as a class by promoting the idea that women like violence and pain, even when they say "no" to it.
The fantasy of pornography is that men can can define women however they like; pornography promotes the idea that women are, at any time, only what men desire them to be.
Pornography, like prostitution, promotes objectification: the idea that women are not humans with independent agency, but things than men can sell, use, and break as they wish.
The pornography industry itself is incredibly violent. Pornography is made by men who openly sanction, celebrate, and promote violence against women. The industry commits numerous human rights abuses as it regularly uses, abuses, buys and sells women. (This is why supporters of pornography strongly oppose any safety regulations within the industry; as laws that would enforce penalties against abusive and sex trafficking would derail many of pornography's most powerful and influential companies.)
Pornography exploits children of both sexes, especially girls. It encourages violence against children, and it commits violence against children.
Pornography promotes racism and antisemitism by relating racial hatred and racial degradation to sexual arousal. Pornography celebrates racist sexual fetishes. Pornography romanticizes Nazi concentration camps and the southern slaveholder plantations.
Pornography perpetuates low self-esteem among women and girls by demeaning, mocking, and degrading female intelligence, creativity, and agency. Women's self-esteem is destroyed by objectification.
Pornography numbs the conscience; making one increasingly callous to cruelty, to the infliction of pain, to violence against people, to the humiliation and degradation of people, and to the abuse of women and children.
If You are a Good Guy: Then you are not a porn consumer, condoner, or apologist. By not being a porn consumer, I mean that you will reject ALL pornography, ALL the time. That includes "softcore" porn sites, the underwear section of the Sears catalog, and sites that you frequent but "don't pay for". A good guy does not mangle his sex drive with porn until he is unable to relate to real women and is only aroused by untenable beauty standards, absolute submissiveness, degrading sexual acts, violence, and rape.
A good guy will take notice of the violence in the pornography industry and the misogyny that underpins porn culture, and fight against it. You will also confront other men who fight fervently to legitimize porn even further, or who whitewash industry violence.
* Contrary to popular belief, sexual arousal is NOT the primary purpose of pornography. The purpose of pornography is to eroticize sexism. Sexual arousal is a tool, used by pornographers, to twist men's sexuality until it conforms to Rape Culture (reinforcing the illusion advocated by pornographers that men are "hard-wired" to rape). If sexual arousal was the only goal of pornography, then porn would exist that is not violent on the screen or to its creators. There would exist porn that was not misogynist, not dominance-and-submission based, and not predicated on the expectation of women's sexual availability to men. You know, stuff that non-vicious people might find arousing.
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