Ready, Set, Blow! by Julia Margalit

My fingers hovered over the keys as I sat down to write this article. Unsure how to conduct research on such a topic, I typed in “porn promotes male dominance”, hoping that scientific studies would come up and support my point. Much to my disappointment, the first two results were porn categories on the popular website with the titles “Male Domination” and “Dominant Man Submissive Girl.” Such results, although unorthodox, supports the idea that pornography alters our minds and surrounds us everywhere we go. The pornography industry continues to display a wide variety of videos and films in which women are treated like objects, therefore setting up unrealistic expectations and contributing to rape culture in the United States.

Fifty years ago, women in bikinis excited men easily. Now, seeing a girl in a bikini is common. Television, movies, and advertisements are littered with women in compromising and sensual situations.  A wide variety of products are sold to us with the promise of sex appeal, including perfume, clothing, alcohol, and fast food. A woman’s naked body can hardly get a guy going unless he’s twelve and has not yet been revealed to bondage and bestiality that the Internet so easily lays out for them. And although everyone has their desires, some of these videos go too far when displaying women “killed, raped, tortured, and mutilated (Longino, 1980 p.42)” just to boost a man’s ego and provide him with pleasure.

Although many argue that the women involved in pornographic films are fully consensual and may even enjoy being on the screen, the characters that they portray are often not placed in fully consensual situations. Men forcing women to give them oral sex and aggressively having vaginal sex with them give inexperienced boys the idea that this is how they should act in the bedroom. If a woman says no, they think she is just playing hard to get, that she really does want it. All it takes is some heavy petting and begging to get her to say yes. In reality, however, women are fully entitled to say no, but porn has created a generation of men who do not understand that.

Perhaps a woman’s hesitation to perform a sexual act does not seem like a big deal, but it is actually considered sexual assault. Every 107 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted. Sexual assault does not necessarily have to be forced vaginal intercourse, but any type of inappropriate touching that makes one partner uncomfortable. Boys’ and men’s exposure to sexual assault while watching porn on a Tuesday night makes it difficult for them to understand the severity and trauma of assault because of the casual depiction of the act and the casual environment that it is viewed in.

Pornography also displays women as primarily sexual objects, whose only purpose is to please men. The sex displayed in films depicts women as getting immense pleasure from performing sexual acts on her male partner. In reality, women don’t moan and scream during any and every sexual interaction that they are placed in. Men and women are also represented very differently in porn. Typically women are fully naked, making them vulnerable while men are often fully clothed or only missing one article of clothing. These contrasting depictions of men and women further contribute to the idea that men are dominant to women.

Women in pornographic films are typically shown in a specific way: large chested, light skinned, and perfectly hairless. Displaying women who only fit that description give men the idea that women who do not look like that are less than worthy. Depicting women this way further contributes to the idea that women are sexual objects and that their sole purpose in this world is to please men. Even lesbian pornography, where neither of the actors have any interest in men, is created specifically for the male gaze.

So men, you might still be questioning such a claim: it can’t be true, the porn I’ve been watching since I went through puberty isn’t brainwashing me! But think about where your sex education comes from. Whether you like it or not, pornography subconsciously affects the way you think and act. And that’s not to say that every man who watches porn will become a rapist, but statistics do show that heavy porn consumption doubles the likelihood that a man will sexually assault his partner. So for how much longer can we pretend that pornography is harmless and that it does not need to be at all censored? The depths of the Internet are littered with underage girls in front of video cameras, bestiality, rape, and torture, and people are watching this stuff and learning from it too. If porn continues to get more and more extreme, how desensitized will we become to the brutal acts shown?