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The Porn Industry Isn’t Just Selling Sex, It’s Selling Violent Abuse of Women

By February 22, 2019 February 26th, 2019 No Comments
The disturbing irony of the #MeToo mindset is that, as a society fights against women’s victimization, it also collectively promotes an industry that inherently, directly, and unapologetically victimizes women: porn.

Society has largely made a choice to work on standing up against the degradation and victimization of women. This means many have committed to do the hard work of breaking down cultural tropes and systems that have historically exploited women.

And, probably most crucial of all, many in power have taken strides to listen to women who have been the victims of abuse, assault, and exploitation. Victims of abuse are finding more safe places to tell their stories in this #MeToo world.

With this positive trend gaining momentum in our culture—and the upcoming generation adopting the cause with dedication—part of our collective duty becomes identifying and addressing factors that still contribute to the victimization and sexual exploitation of women. But here’s where the blind spots are.

The disturbing irony of the #MeToo mindset is that, as a society fights against women’s victimization, it also collectively promotes an industry that inherently, directly, and unapologetically victimizes women: porn.

So what are the specific problems here? How exactly does porn embody the opposite of support and advocacy for women?

FTND note: It’s important to note that males can be victims of exploitation, trafficking, abuse, and degradation, too. We’ll be focusing on women for the intent of this post.

Turning victimization into a pleasure-drug

If you’ve ever checked out a mainstream porn site, you know you don’t have to search very thoroughly before violence and abuse appear. Video after video of people being treated roughly, physically assaulted, verbally demeaned, and even raped reveals the unsettling reality of porn-induced pleasure. Statistically, these people are often women.

Porn is escalatory by nature, which means that someone who starts consuming softer porn will begin to need more quantity and more hardcore porn in order to feel the same neurological dopamine rush (feeling of pleasure).

The demand for violent, hardcore material is remarkably high as a result. Male abuse porn is a  popular category that shouldn’t be ignored, though it’s important to note that this is a niche fetish category and not as “mainstream” as female abuse.

Related: Can You Tell The Difference Between #MeToo Stories And Porn Plot Lines?

“Domestic discipline,” “crying in pain,” “extreme brutal gangbang,” “drunk f—ing,” and “sleep assault” are some of the most popular searches on one of the most popular porn sites. Both scientific analysis and qualitative observation show that when it comes to porn, the victimization of women sells.

The industry knows this, so they churn out every possible version of exploitative abuse porn and keep people clicking for more. And this pleasure-seeking cycle continues, aided by the fact that porn tube sites are designed to keep you searching, viewing, and watching in an endless loop.

When you view it this way, porn is exactly the opposite of the victim-advocate world much of society claims to advocate for. The porn industry fuels a system of millions of people experiencing pleasure from situations of victimization.

Hindering the #MeToo conversation

Consider how the repeated exposure to abusive images, shown in an arousing context, can desensitize and normalize exploitation for any consumer. In other words, when images and videos of the abuse of women are repeatedly put into the brain, research shows it adapts to find those realities normal.

This is when the helpful elasticity of the brain that allows us to learn, grow and stretch ourselves can be put to a warped, unhealthy use. This isn’t limited to videos of outright abuse, either. A highly cited study from Dr. Gail Dines found that 90% of porn videos contain some combination of degrading physical and verbal aggression, specifically toward women. That content can teach the brain that the degradation of women is normal.

Related: Does The Porn Industry Really Care About Empowering Women?

Porn’s desensitization is widespread—we are talking about an industry that is worth billions of dollars, constitutes 35% of all internet downloads, and is influencing the brains and norms of 28,258 people every second.

It’s become clear that in a #MeToo society that strives to give abuse victims a voice, it is contradictory to support an industry that simultaneously and unapologetically normalizes and fetishes abusive situations people speak out about every day.

Changing the culture means changing our consumption

The point of shining a light on all of this research isn’t to say that porn is the direct cause of all #MeToo stories, but to point out that porn paves the way for society to take the behavior that happens in #MeToo stories less seriously.

“If we want these #MeToo experiences to decrease, we must begin to change our culture… We must recognize that objectification, rape culture, pornography, sexual violence, prostitution, sex trafficking must be addressed and the links between them made known,” says Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

Related: Is There A Connection Between Porn Culture And Rape Culture?

This includes considering what we consume and watch, and what sexually exploitative material we have allowed to be normalized in our society and lives. This includes considering when we have been upset by a #MeToo sitaution, yet not by the abuse and objectification of men and women in pornography.

In addressing the issue of gender equality, sexual exploitation, harassment, and abuse in our society, it is necessary that we address the ways that porn promotes inequality and feeds into the damaging narrative that women are objects to be used or sexual means to an end. And it won’t be easy to change the culture that surrounds us, but it is important that we do.

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