Pornography Through the Eyes of Feminists

pornography feminists

Trigger warning : Mentions of forced sex

Feminism emerged with the inculcation of the political, economic and cultural movement for establishing equal rights for women. The movement that involves gender equality through political and sociological theories was not widespread until the 1970’s. The history of feminism is vast and is divided into three waves and with each subsequent wave the movement expanded by inculcating new ideas and fighting new challenges.

The first feminist wave emerged in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the second came during the 1960’s and 1970’s and the third wave extended from the 1990’s till the present date. During a large part of its history, the feminist and their theory of feminism challenged several predominant ideologies of society. Originating from the Western society, the movement gradually spread out to the entire world and changed the social and political systems.
Pornography is slavery
The early age of feminist movement started with the right to vote and gradually shifted to other areas of gender inequality, such as abortion rights, reproductive rights, awareness of domestic rights and other gender specific discrimination against women. With each subsequent wave, feminist movement unravelled different section and ideologies to discuss upon such as lesbian feminism, socialist feminism, radical feminism, feminist thoughts on motherhood among many others.

Feminists against Pornography

Feminists have had several debates and discussions over the existence of some questionable ideas in fiction and media which intrigued them. Amongst it is one matter that seemed to have left a more bitter impact than others, that being; The presence of sexual and explicit material against women in fiction and media.

The feminist’s view on pornography talks of all forms of violence against women in the name of sexual acts which is mainly to show off male supremacy. These views and debates on pornography also lead to the mention of prostitution, BDSM and other severe sexually exploitative behaviour done towards women.

Pornography has been one of the most important issues in feminism, with several feminist editors describing it as a major problem. ‘The oppression of women is manifested in particular institutions constructed and maintained to keep women in their place. Among these are the institutions of marriage, motherhood, love and sexual intercourse’. The argument of women being targeted consists of all the exploitative behaviour done towards them.

Prostitution and Pornography = Rape

Feminists have pointed out that the two institutions of rape is prostitution and pornography. This kind of sex is sadistic and not a harmless way of sex.

A larger part of pornography has become an area of disgust for the feminists as it not only showcases examples of how male supremacy can be reached but also supports the idea of non-consensual sex which includes rape and involuntary indulgence in pornography.

Much of what is shown in pornography is abusive in nature and at times escalates into violent and brutal behaviour in the process of its making. Most of the female performers are forcefully coerced into pornography either by someone or through unfortunate circumstances and if objected, they are subjected to threats of violence and emotional abuse.

Pornography fair and well supports the idea of male supremacy over anything else. The whole concept of self supremacy is so strong in men that it makes them believe that they are entitled to dominance. A dominance which does not even allow the culture to see women as equal to men. The male supremacy along with their privileged power sees women as mere objects, who are present to satisfy their sexual needs and to no surprise, the male dominated society supports it.

Male Supremacy and Sexual Exploitation

Male supremacy in sexual intercourse in pornography calls out to the fact that sex becomes violet since most is performed illegally or through sexual abuse. These misogynistic and exploitative practices are present all over the industry. If given a choice the society would loom more into the hardcore pornography that treat women as sex toys and show male superiority than watching something that is softer.

These unrealistic portrayal of pornography gives out a wrong message about the whole concept of sex and indirectly sets an unrealistic expectation from women, further developing a harsh sexist attitude. A famous feminist editor Dworkin said that ‘male “forces” the female to become that thing that causes erection, then holds himself helpless and powerless when he is aroused by her, his fetishes are ultimately sadistic and political” . This is a truth, which also indicates that sex for most men in the world is brutal and only dominant.

Since the inception of feminist movement, there has been a constant fight over the acknowledgement of women’s identity however the pornography industry has made this fight further difficult. Porn industries show the ideology that a woman who does not want ‘it’ must be forced and once the woman who does not want it has been forced, she becomes indistinguishable from the woman who resisted, because she did want it.

Stories of Women in Pornography

Pornography shows that female consent is illegitimate because if a woman is participating in the creation of pornography and is seen to be enjoying it, then how can it be degrading to her or women in general? Female models have often been forced to perform, for example a former pornographic film star, Linda Lovelace once said that she had been a virtual slave while performing.

Another famous pornographic film star, Mia Khalifa also said in an interview, “It was systematic conditioning to make me feel like I was not worthy until a man desired me that ultimately pushed me to do it”. While another interview revealed how a woman was regularly raped by a man who would bring pornographic magazines and videos and made her imitate the actions done in the video.

pornography and feminism
Mia Khalifa

Pornography has revealed that slavery, bondage, maiming, acts of suffrage are a pleasure for those who commit them i.e. those who are in power. Pornography shows that male pleasure comes from victimising, hurting and exploiting women for their own sexual fun.

Male supremacy in pornography is nothing new, it is something that world knows and is comfortable with. While the abuse done towards women is also a topic that the world knows about yet they tend to ignore it.

This normalcy of crime against women in the name of sexual dominance is a fight that women have been dealing with since ages and while some criticise the feminists for their critique towards pornography, what they don’t understand is that this humiliation leads to self-destruction. Everyone has the right to explore areas of their interest. For example, women reading erotica should not be compared to them ideolising pornography.

Publicizing a system where women are treated as degraded human beings with no moral of their own, is something that the society should not support. Rather they should encourage the acceptance of women enjoying sexual encounters in the same way as it is for men.

Pornography promotes involuntary sex at a time when it should be treated as a choice.

Jenainati, Cathia, and Judy Groves. Introducing Feminism. London: Icon Books, 2014.
Bryden, David. “Between Two Constitutions: Feminism and Pornography”. 1985.

About the Author: Devaanshi is a humanities student with an absolute love for travelling and everything related to it. Cooking and Writing are other fields that interests her.

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