The Porn Industry is Gaslighting Us

The Porn Industry is Gaslighting Us May 26, 2020

This is the first post in a series I will be writing about pornography. Please be aware that the following content will discuss porn and sexuality and may include strong language. 

Photo by Mathilde LMD on Unsplash
Photo by Mathilde LMD on Unsplash

All boys watch porn. 

I’m not sure how old I was when I first heard this maxim. I do know that I believed it with absolute certainty by the time I was in sixth grade. I knew that the first boy I kissed would have already witnessed grown adults having sex. The women he had seen would be better looking, more experienced, and more adventurous than I was. His understanding of what to expect from me would be influenced by what he had learned from them. The way that made me feel – insecure, uncomfortable, and humiliated – was irrelevant. If I wanted to date boys, I would have to accept porn.  After all, didn’t I want to be a cool girlfriend?

My Feelings About Porn are Valid

Recently, I wrote on this blog about modesty, and how the typical discourse around that topic focuses exclusively on men’s sexual experiences to the disservice of women. One of the more interesting discussions to arise from this post was around the issue of porn. I was too simplistic in my characterization of pornography, giving the appearance that I accepted Catholic teaching in this area without question. This is far from the truth.

In fact, my journey toward opposition to pornography is long and complex. I think it’s important to understanding the wider topic of women’s sexuality. In no way do I wish to state that my experience is universal for all women. (There is no universal women’s sexuality.) But it is a woman’s experience.  And it is, despite what the industry will try to claim, valid. The way it makes me feel is absolutely real. I’m no longer interested in pretending otherwise.

Dismantling Myths About Porn

I’m a thirty-year old woman and I’m only now coming around to dismantling the myths I took in at a young age. These myths led me to believe that I was not worthy of the kind of relationship I wanted. My feelings of insecurity and discomfort were my own problem.

I now believe that the mainstream porn industry has waged an impressive campaign to convince us all that porn isn’t only normal, it’s necessary for a healthy sexual development. Worse, they have succeeded in framing anyone who is not interested in their product as close-minded, repressed, prudes. (Or members of the alt-right.) If you don’t support porn, you’re the problem. If you don’t support porn, you’re downright crazy. Your perception of the world is just wrong. 

Well, there’s a word for those kind of mind games.

The Purpose of This Series

I had intended to write a single blog post about the lies the industry has fed our society, but I quickly realized that I had too much too say about each one of them. I’ve also had several fruitful discussions with close friends who do support porn, and I didn’t have the space within a single post to do justice to every argument and counter-argument that I feel is important. Thus, I am going to release a series of blogs, on a weekly basis. I typically release two blogs per week, so this series will account for every other post. Moving forward, I will tackle the following myths one at a time:

Within these topics, I intend to address important counter-examples, such as alternative or woman-focused pornography. I will also attempt to offer solutions, with the understanding that the issue is complex and that policy surrounding pornography should reflect a free and diverse society, not a society driven by a singular religious perspective. I am not an expert on porn. I don’t even watch porn. But it has still impacted my life, and I have every right to talk about why that is. So I will.

This is Serious

I don’t use the term gaslighting lightly. Major players in the industry, particularly PornHub, have a history of abusive tactics against their own performers, their audience, and those who refuse to be a part of their audience. They also have a passionate base of users that are willing to attack, humiliate, and expose anyone who dares to speak out against them. Their dishonesty, doublespeak, and condemnation of anyone who opposes them is classic emotional abuse. This is no way for an industry to operate. It’s time that we as a society embraced this very serious reality.

If you feel hurt, embarrassed, or ashamed because of your experience with porn, whatever that may be, there is nothing wrong with you. There are a ton of things wrong with them, and it’s time we started talking about it.

Interested in this series? Check out the next installments:

Myth #1: Porn is Part of Normal Sexual Development

Myth #2: There’s No Such Thing as Porn Addiction

Myth #3: Thanks to The Internet, We All Get Free Porn

Myth #4: Porn Empowers Women by Celebrating Sexual Liberation

Myth #5: Porn is Private and Does Not Impact Relationships

Myth #6: Porn is Universal. If He Says He Doesn’t Use It, He’s Lying

About Emily Claire Schmitt
Emily Claire Schmitt is a playwright and screenwriter focused on uncovering the mystical in the modern world. She is a Core Member of The Skeleton Rep(resents) and is currently developing an original movie with The Hallmark Channel. Follow her on Twitter @Eclaire082. You can read more about the author here.
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