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How Porn Objectifies Men and Harms Male Consumers

By March 13, 2019 No Comments
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It’s no secret that porn objectifies women. But just because porn isn’t beneficial for women in a society that seeks gender equality doesn’t mean it’s positive for men. Studies continue to show that porn harms the brain like a drug and it can result in health issues for men like erectile dysfunction. It also leaves consumers feeling lonely and worthless.

The latter emotions led us to wonder if porn objectifies men like it does women. Is that possible and is there research to support that thought? Turns out, the answer is yes.

Researchers from the University of Amsterdam wanted to better understand and explore the actual content on porn sites. Their study analyzed three dimensions of gender inequality in porn, one of those being objectification.

Related: How Early Porn Exposure Traumatizes Boys And Fuels Toxic Masculinity

There’s no shortcut to discovering what the content contains without watching it. After examining 400 popular porn videos, the study concluded that porn does, in fact, objectify men, just in a different way than women.

What’s the deal with objectification?

Objectification is treating someone as if they are merely an object, not a person. The phrase “a means to an end” is often used when describing a woman as a sexual tool for a man.

Objectification examples for women include being catcalled, stared at, or touched without consent. Women from all nationalities and backgrounds have stories very similar to Tracy Clayton, a writer and podcaster, whose first experience with being viewed as just a body was when she was in her mid-teens.

RelatedToxic “Fantasy”: What Pornography Gets Wrong About Female Sexuality

“I was walking down the street on my way home, when a man came up behind me. He told me I was pretty and asked how old I was, what grade I was in. I told him; I didn’t feel unsafe because I was with friends. He floated me a couple of other innocuous compliments…. Then he said, as he walked behind me, ‘and I know that p**** is good, too.’

I had been catcalled before, but that was the first time a man made me so aware of my body and all of its parts, made me feel ashamed for having them, made me want to just disappear into thin air. In that moment I didn’t feel like a person; just flesh with no face, no name. I also somehow knew that it wouldn’t be the last time I would be made to feel that way.”

So what about men?

How are men objectified in porn?

In the study from the University of Amsterdam, the conclusion was that women were more often seen as instruments of men’s sexual pleasure, evidence of this is the amount of close-up body shots of women, but that “men were more frequently dehumanized” because their faces were rarely shown.

The truth is, a lot of porn videos are made for the male experience or even filmed from their perspective. When the male character’s face is left out, the focus is clearly elsewhere.

In a YouTube satire series made by a major porn site called “PornSoup,” a female actress jokes about trying to cast a male porn star. When describing the male performers she says, “Your entire psyche sort of rests on whether you can get your d— hard, whether you have a bigger d— than everyone else.”

RelatedViolent, Misogynist Aggressors: How Porn Twists The Way Society Views Men

The series is meant to be comical—making light of typical situations that occur during porn production—but it rings true to the research. According to porn, a man’s value is based on the size and stamina of his genitalia, and that’s pretty much it. The focus is below the belt, not on him as a whole person.

The pressure to literally be larger than life and long-lasting leads to popping Viagra and other medications that put the performer’s health at risk. Recently, former performer Chris Zeischegg opened up about his experiences in the porn industry, which included being treated “numerous times for painful, prolonged erections.” He was warned by doctors about possible long-term damage from his drug habits, which led him to re-think his career in such a brutal industry.

“Stunt cocks” are another alternative to covering up a supposed male shortcoming, when a performer can’t perform or isn’t big enough for the role. These refer to either a fake prosthetic penis or another man’s real phallus used as a substitute when filming, with creative editing required in post-production. In a similar way, digital photography techniques are used to alter the appearance of the female body to an unattainable level, and these tactics for men continue to portray an exaggerated fantasy.

Why this matters

Just as women deserve respect as irreplaceable members of society, so do men. We cannot confuse porn predominantly aimed at men as a gift to them. The reality is, it is damaging to both sexes.

Related: 3 Ways Porn Openly Vilifies Men And Exploits Their Insecurities

Men and women are not and should not be viewed or treated as objects. Objectification breeds a type of extreme pressure on both sexes to live up to an unrealistic standard. It can lead to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, depression and drug abuse—not only to performers but also to consumers.

People are not products. This is why we prefer to choose love and build real relationships beyond a computer screen.

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