3 Reasons Porn Sucks

I don’t think opposition to the pornography industry is a religious issue. Here’s why:

1. Sex Trafficking

The word pornography comes from pornos, prostitute, and grapho, to depict or write, meaning “depicting prostitutes.” We seem to be waking up to the possibility that the word’s etymology may very well be a description of reality. Pornography is fundamentally an experience of bought sex.

In the purchase of pornography, we pay for sexual arousal. We do not simply pay money for a video — though it is precisely this idea that allows us to remove ourselves from the possibility that we are engaging in sex trafficking — we also pay for the incidence of sexual use that the video depicts. The money spent on pornography does not disappear, it goes to pornographers, thus supplying and encouraging those who’s job it is to get men and women to have sex for money, that is, to prostitute themselves. In this regard, there is very little difference between the pornographer and the pimp. He arranges the experience of sexual gratification for a client by paying a woman the client doesn’t know to have sex. The American feminist Catherine MacKinnon, in a 2005 speech, made some very indicting claims regarding the relationship between pornography and sex trafficking:

0F-1

Pornography then further creates demand for prostitution, hence for trafficking, through its consumption.Consuming pornography is an experience of bought sex, of sexually using a woman or a girl or a boy as an object who has been purchased. As such, it stimulates demand for buying women and girls and boys as sexual objects in the flesh in the same way it stimulates the viewer to act out on other live women and girls and boys the specific acts that are sexualized and consumed in the pornography. Social science evidence, converging with testimonial evidence of real people, has long shown the latter. As observed…in the hearings on the anti-pornography civil rights ordinance that Andrea Dworkin and I organized for the Minneapolis City Council at its request: “Men witness the abuse of women in pornography constantly, and if they can’t engage in that behavior with their wives, girlfriends, or children, they force a whore to do it.” On the basis of the experiences of a group of women survivors of prostitution and pornography, she told how pornography was used to train and season young girls in prostitution and how men would bring photographs of women in pornography being abused, say, in effect, “I want you to do this,” and demand that the acts being inflicted on the women in the materials be specifically duplicated. Research by Mimi Silbert and Ayala Pines on prostituted women in San Francisco also reported that the women spontaneously mentioned being raped by johns [those who purchase prostitutes] who said, essentially, “I [have] seen it in all the movies … . You know you love it,” referring to a specific pornography “flick.” Melissa Farley and her colleagues found that forty-seven percent of prostituted women in nine countries were upset by someone asking them to perform a sex act that had been seen in pornography. Forty-nine percent reported that pornography was made of them in prostitution. Mary Sullivan’s research in Victoria, Australia, where prostitution has been legalized for a decade, reports women describing pornography videos running constantly in brothels – to set the tone and mood, apparently – making safe sex more difficult. Pornography is documented to create demand for specific acts, including dangerous and demeaning ones inflicted on prostituted people, as well as for bought sex in general. If this is right – and Melissa Farley’s preliminary results show that it is – the more men use pornography, the more they use prostitutes.

In shortening the word “pornography” to “porn,” or “porno,” we are performing etymologically what arguably occurs in reality — moving from “depicting prostitutes” to an engagement with just “prostitutes.” In essence, pornography is associated with prostitution because pornography — insofar as it is the purchase of a person for sexual gratification — is already is a form of prostitution. In watching pornography, we cannot pretend that the consequences of our actions are limited to us and our browsing history, for we are supporting an industry, creating a demand for the exploitation of human beings, creating jobs for pornographers, and thereby creating incidences of sexual use. (And to be absolutely clear, there is no such thing as free porn. If you are not directly giving money to a pornographer, you are giving it to him through an advertiser.)

But surely — I imagine a complaint could go — this is only a problem if you take as an assumption the idea that porn is abusive and bad. Then yes, it is bad to watch pornography and thereby fund an industry that sells sexual acts for gratification. But what if you take the enlightened, modern view that the only morally limiting factor of a sexual act is that it be between “consenting adults”? Pornography, after all, is consensual. Women and men perform sexual acts for pornographers out of their own free will, flaunting their lifestyle, calling themselves “pornstars.” Why then, is it any evil to fund an industry which people join by choice?

2. The Illusion of Consent

From the point of view of the person watching pornography, there is no way to establish that any of its members are consenting to the act reproduced. How could you possibly know? From the point of view of the person watching pornography, there is likewise no way to know that it’s members are all legal adults. Could you with certainty distinguish a 16-year-old girl, the trafficking of whom is an incidence of child pornography, condemned by the law and by society, with an 18-year-old, the trafficking of whom is supposedly harmless, consensual, and absolutely legal? Given that there is no way we can affirm that the already inadequate moral minimum of “consenting adults” is being adhered to, we should shake from ourselves any semblance of confidence in the “consensual” nature of pornography.

MacKinnon notes that, “as with all prostitution, the women and children in pornography are, in the main, not there by choice but because of a lack of choices. They usually “consent” to the acts only in the degraded and demented sense of the word (common also to the law of rape) in which a person who despairs at stopping what is happening, sees no escape, has no real alternative, was often sexually abused before as a child, may be addicted to drugs, is homeless, hopeless, is often trying to avoid being beaten or killed, is almost always economically desperate, acquiesces in being sexually abused for payment, even if, in most instances, it is payment to someone else.”

This is not consent. Furthermore, even if there is some semblance of consent in regards to an initial entrance into the pornography, it is not informed consent. Truly informed consent would allow a woman to consent not only to a life of having pornography made of her, but to the content of that life. Two ex-porn-actors Shelley Lubben and Jenni Case bravely detailed the fact that should probably seem obvious — women are lied to about the content of their lives as porn actors. They are told that they will be given attention, safety, glamour and money. In reality, they are made to work in filthy conditions, they are constantly exposed to disease, they are pressured into sexual acts that they do not want to perform, and the vast majority of “pornstars” must resort to drugs and alcohol to numb both the physical and emotional pain of their “work.”

YouTube Preview Image

A 2012 thesis paper by Chelsea Thompson looks at multiple studies and confirms this:

Many enter the industry with a distorted view of what it will be like, and many producers and agents take advantage of this innocence (Hughes, 2000). New performers are thrown right into brutal and traumatic scenes and performances. Even if one initially consents and has signed a contract, if he/she is not allowed to back out, this can be considered trafficking. Additionally, if one ignores a participant’s request to stop and uses force to make one finish a scene or continue working in the industry, then this is sex trafficking. Also, preying on an addiction, either from before one’s entrance into the industry or after, can be classified as psychological coercion according to the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), child pornography is always seen as coercive in nature even if it is not for commercial purposes because it is preying on vulnerabilities and the inability to consent to something as an adult. The third prong is fraud, which Hughes (2010) states is “tricking someone into something she didn’t anticipate” (p. 4). Therefore, it can be argued that fraud occurs in most, if not all, instances of pornography (Hughes, 2010).

[Read More]

Sexuality and the Land
Planned Parenthood and the Myth of the Sheepish, Dependent, Ethically Mono-chromed Woman (Introduction)
Why Religious People Are Ashamed of Porn
Sexuality and Personality

CLOSE | X

HIDE | X