10 Ways the Porn Industry Degrades Women 

Porn is known to be associated with explicit content but people take it as just that but try to dig deeper and see how porn stands to support a very toxic industry that exploits women both on and off camera.

Here are 10 ways in which the porn industry degrades and how this impacts real life as well: 

1. Porn normalizes harm  

A-woman-getting-assaulted

Violence toward women is sold as a fantasy in porn. 

The most popular content to feature in porn videos is ‘violence’! Do you find this surprising? 

One study analyzed hundreds of the most popular porn scenes and found that 88.2% contained physical violence or aggression while 48.7% contained verbal aggression. 

Another study estimated that nearly 40% of videos analyzed on Pornhub contained visible aggression or violence, while 25% contained verbal aggression. 

And yet another study suggested that 45.1% of Pornhub videos and 35.0% of videos on XVideos depicted violence or aggression.3 And as each of these studies agreed, women were almost always the targets. 

All these stats only beg to show one thing, that it is common to feature violence in porn.  

Key Takeaways 

  • Additionally, men were usually the aggressors and women were overwhelmingly the targets. Pornography is not mainstream media but with the large masses and viewership of such numbers, it is scary to think people consume content that is filled with sexual violence towards women.  
  • This normalizes violence as it is seen in almost all videos. As this violence is connected to arousal, this can create many different fixations for men in real life. There are plenty of studies that show that visuals have an impact on behavior. But direct links have not yet been found.  
  • Still, it is proven that people with aggression and hatred towards women in general and who are exposed to extreme and violent porn are influenced to act similarly in real life. They are influenced to commit crimes.  
  • Another argument that is put forth to support porn is that pornography is only a ‘means to act out a fantasy’, but as consumers progessively watch more porn and are prone to desensitization, they require more dangerous content to feel aroused. Several cases have arisen where perpetrators are found to be influenced by violent porn. 

2. Porn harms the women in the industry 

a-woman

Sexual violance and sex trafficking can happen to anyone of any gender, but this is especially true for women. 

It’s doubtful that we know the full picture of what’s happening behind the scenes, not just what’s on the screen.  

“Unfortunately, the porn industry benefits from non-consensual content and abuse and often ignores victims’ requests to remove abusive content. And unfortunately, many of these victims are women.”  

Porn is a powerful multi-billion-dollar industry. All three porn sites, XVideos, XNXX and Pornhub, are among the top 20 most visited sites in the world. Pornhub has been the most scrutinized in recent years, but it’s important to remember that virtually every major porn site has it. Problems with non-consensual content and abuse. 

So, it’s no wonder that many victims feel helpless when faced with such a powerful industry. Mainstream porn performers can also be abused or exploited in the industry with little or no impact on the abuser. 

‘Hot Girls Wanted’ is a show that follows the behind-the-scenes life of a young woman doing amateur porn in Miami, Florida. Most girls who have just turned 18 and found a job in response to an ad on Craigslist under TV and radio work. According to a male porn actor interviewed in the movie, “There is an endless influx of girls who want to do porn. Many of them know it’s a trap, but the money is right there. You know it’s a trap, you take it and hope for the best”. 

These are stories shared by women who have experienced abuse at the hands of the industry. 

These were women in dire economic conditions who felt their options were limited. As they entered “in it,” their options were further limited. Women often say that they were given a picture that was very different from reality. They felt pressured to engage in sexual encounters even during unpleasant times. Under the control of a skilled manipulator, things often happened faster than they could handle in time to say no. 

Unfortunately, despite entering the industry because of financial needs, many women aren’t making as much as they might imagine. “It costs a lot to be in porn.” Women are the main product, but male agents usually make most of their money by controlling women. 

These young women might come in thinking they can make easy cash but mostly these big corporations make money off of these young girls and hardly a decent deal. This is the case with several famous porn stars, ex-pornstar Mia Khalifa has spoken out about this issue. 

The infamous ‘Playboy Mansion’ was linked to numerous scandals and girls brought in were made to believe that there were men ready to pay top dollar just for their company and this did not require sex—however that became nearly in no way the case.  

In addition to bringing in those with financial needs and taking a cut from their earnings, working in the sex industry offers neither good job security nor options for employment after they leave. This is important to note as people who have been associated or worked with the porn industry find it very difficult to find work elsewhere. 

Porn actresses who sign up for one thing, and then are coerced to do something else while the cameras are rolling, have this experience all too often. It`s not uncommon for women to get physically assaulted to do a sexual act they weren`t informed of beforehand.  

It turns out that formerly agreed-upon terms change quite quickly on porn sets—once the actresses have come in to perform and are in compromised positions, and feel they don`t have the option to say no.  

Employing “force, fraud, or coercion” in commercial sex acts is what is known as the crime of sex trafficking.

No one may be holding down and threatening anyone, but what a women in the industry is exposed to is dangerously close to sexual trafficking, if not certain. 

But such tragedies are pushed off as hazards that come with the territory. 

3. Women are portrayed as sexual objects 

a-woman-portrayed-as-a-sexual-object

Most porn is created by men for the pleasure of men. Now, why is this a problem? 

Let’s understand the male gaze 

What is the Male gaze? 

The male gaze is the act of portraying women and the world in visual arts and literature from the perspective of a heterosexual male, presenting and portraying women as sexual objects for the joy of heterosexual male viewers. 

When we take the male gaze into consideration, we understand that women are diminished to just being objects of pleasure. They do not have any other characteristics or complexities other than to sexually arouse and be the ‘ultimate male fantasy’. Similarly in degrading porn, women are not seen to have any admirable qualities like strength or even autonomy or independence.  

This is seen in how women are tossed around and even degraded.  

During a study, when the subjects were presented with an image of a sexualized woman, a certain part of the brain was not activated. Basically, the automatic response of their brains suggested that they did not recognize women as complete humans, but saw them as objects focused on their bodies and body parts.  

Researchers concluded that “sexualized women were perceived to have little control over their lives,” “this is because of sexualized women compared to fully dressed women. It suggests that it is closely related to being the subject, not the subject of the action”. 

People learn about sexual norms when they view sexually explicit content like pornography (Brown & L’Engle, 2009; Rothman et al., 2015). With regards to the sexual norms perpetuated by pornography, several analyses have reported that sexual media regularly presents sexually objectifying depictions of women (Bridges et al., 2010; Fritz & Bryant, 2017; Klaassen & Peter, 2015).  

For decades, videos, DVDs, magazines, and degrading pornographic content on the Internet have focused primarily on the female body, especially the genitals. (e.g., Cowan et al., 1988; Klaassen & Peter, 2015; Monk-Turner & Purcell, 1999).  

As another illustration, Bridges et al. (2010) noted that the location of male ejaculation is a component of female sexual objectification; in their content analysis, they found that male ejaculation “almost always occurred outside the female character’s vagina” and more saw was seen to be found around the face (specifically the mouth) and the anus.  

Several harsh commands are seen to be the only form of verbal communication in adult films. Pornography users’ attitudes toward women as sex objects are linked to many of these depictions of women as sex objects (Peter & Valkenburg, 2007). 

This was related to the concept of treating women as sexual objectification in three ways: 1) Pornography caused women’s sexual tools. 2) Devaluated women in porn; 3) Porn has corrupted women. However, I have found that there are two other interesting causes that can best explain this problem.  

The first reason to treat women as sexual objects was the gaze of men in patriarchal societies. Another cause was female narcissism. Furthermore, from the perspective of a radical feminist, it was pointed out that pornography is just a means of communication. 

4. Pornography reduces empathy and respect towards women 

“A survey conducted showed that 41% of American males and 46% of females believed that sexual materials lead people to lose respect for women.”

Brené Brown, an American researcher on shame and vulnerability, writes that “empathy is felt by people.” It’s about reaching someone’s level, connecting with something within you, and being able to connect with someone else. This is something that pornography doesn’t have at all. And certainly, degrading pornography can hinder consumers’ ability to empathize and love deeply.  

Sam Carr, a lecturer in Educational Psychology at the University of Bath, recently wrote in The Conversation about how humiliating porn can destroy our empathy and encourage harassment and abuse.  

If sexual objectification is still a fairly important part of our culture, can we really create a safe place where people can be respected and easily report harassment? Finally, psychologists have discovered that pornography adversely affects the way consumers see others.  

Objects have no emotions; objects belong to humans. When we objectify people, we no longer consider them emotional people and can no longer empathize with them. But objectification does more than just make people objects. It also suggests ownership.  

“In short, empathy and sexual objectification are incompatible,” Carr wrote. “Under a sexually targeted gaze, the female body instantly becomes the viewer’s” property, “with or without consent. ” 

Sexualized representations, especially the emphasis on secondary sexual characteristics, can change the way we perceive an individual. An international team of researchers led by Giorgia Silani from the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Vienna has shown that empathic feelings and brain responses are reduced when we observe the emotions of sexualized women. The results of the study were recently published in the renown scientific journal Cortex.  

The way we appear, the way we look, has always been a crucial element in every social interaction, romantic or not. The use of sexualized representations of the individual, with a consequent emphasis on sexual body parts, is, especially in western society, a common way to induce emotions (especially pleasure) with the goal to increase the hedonic value of the associated object (see everyday media advertising).  

But what are the consequences of such sexualized representation? Social psychology has extensively studied the phenomenon, and concluded that sexualization (or sexual objectification) affects the way we perceive other people, in that it strips them of certain human attributes, such as a moral sense or the capacity to responsibly plan one’s actions. Social psychology also suggests that we perceive differently the emotions expressed by objectified vs. non-objectified individuals. 

A study recently published in Cortex, and led by Giorgia Silani from the University of Vienna, shows that observers have less empathy for sexually objectified women, this means a reduced capacity to feel and recognize their emotions has been noticed. “The results from the research suggest that the underlying mechanism may be a reduced activation of the brain’s empathy network,” says Giorgia Silani. 

5. There is an imbalance of power between the men and women of porn 

weighing-balance-with-men-and-women

The modern porn industry is based on patriarchal gender fundamentalism and pornography/media fundamentalism, undermining the ability to achieve self-fulfilment in a stable and respectful community.  

Statement on Public Health Impacts: The hypermedia nature of women’s sexual exploitation in pornography and life in the United States today makes the relationships needed for a stable, respectful human community, especially men. 

Even in simulated sex, there seems to be an imbalance of power. The male is mostly shown as dominant and powerful as the oppressor and the female is shown as submissive and docile as the victim. The male most uses force and harsh commands to portray dominance whereas most of the script in porn does not include a women’s sexual wants or needs. 

These depictions can further influence the mentality of males in real life and can even affect real-life sex with your partners. 

6. Porn harms a women’s self-image 

a-woman's-self-image

Dozens of topics and industries have contributed to the problem of women’s low self-esteem, one of which is arguably pornography.  

We live in a world of unrealistic expectations for Photoshop, influencers, and “ideal” shapes. Obviously, this isn’t just a problem for women, but it does affect women.  

Porn is full of digitally modified images of women and provides consumers with a twisted version of physical beauty and sex. Every day we receive messages from women who feel they need to be leaner or sexy in order to compete with the porn performers their partners are watching, for good reason.  

Women in porn are rarely seen with hair on their bodies and most often their bodies are enhanced with plastic surgery. While women outside of porn compare themselves to these damaging standards. 

7. Promotes inequality and sexist attitudes 

 In particular, the attitude, understood as ‘associations between objects and “evaluative knowledge”’ (Brownstein 2017), of sexism,  i.e. the association of women, as social objects, and negative evaluations. Such attitudes may be held explicitly or implicitly and may be expressed via a variety of behaviors, including sexual violence or prejudiced acts that perpetuate gender inequalities. 

There is misogyny and sexism expressed in the consumption of some pornography, and second, we can critique pornography’s role in the concealment of sexist attitudes. 

First, by paying attention to attitudes, consumers can directly criticize abusive and abusive pornography, which is clearly degrading. It is reasonable to assume that consumers of this material share a problematic attitude to express towards women, in which case the consumer’s “preference” for this material is their sexist. It can be read as proof of a different perspective.  

In other words, we can read the consumption of material that explicitly supports these views. Recall that the challenge was not to show a link between the apparently violent and degrading consumption of pornography and sexist and misogynistic attitudes. The difficulty was in involving pornography as the cause of these attitudes. 

However, by changing the subject of criticism, these difficulties can be avoided. By paying attention to these attitudes themselves expressed by pornographic consumers, we avoid the difficulties faced by the above strategies and identify the problem more accurately.  

In addition, such attitudes can lead to rape and sexual violence, as well as sexist behavior that can include discrimination and humiliation that recreates gender inequality. Thus, criticism of such attitudes can easily raise concerns about the existence of such overt misogynistic views reflect the range of apparently problematic attitudes held by its consumers. 

8. Shaping men’s sexual expectations of women 

There is a common concern that due to porn men’s sexual expectations of women have reached higher levels. Men expect women to look and act a certain way. They are influenced by the raw visuals seen in porn and may expect women in real life to look a certain way. This may be in regards to body type and even body hair.  

Women often complain that their male partners who watch pornography do not seem to be satisfied by their partners. This causes women to doubt their self-worth and in turn affects their self-esteem.  

“These sexual expectations are also seen with regard to how a woman reacts during sex. Highly unrealistic scenes are found in pornography where women are seen shouting and moaning in pleasure in response to sexual acts. Women in real life feel this urge to constantly reassure their partners by moaning without actually feeling sexually aroused.”

9. Acceptance of sexual aggression 

a-woman-being-assaulted

Apart from sexual gratification itself, sexual violence in opposition to girls is usually an end result of unequal strength equations each actual and perceived among males and females and is likewise strongly encouraged with the aid of using cultural elements and values.  

Within socio-centric and ego-centric cultures, the jobs and representations of genders, and attitudes closer to sexual violence differ. 

Cultures with feminist views empower men and women equally. Sexual violence can occur more frequently in cultures that promote a perceived belief in male superiority and female social and cultural inferiority.  

Culture is an important factor in understanding sexual violence as a whole, but its strengths and weaknesses need to be considered along with its cultural structure. 

10. Porn capitalizes on women’s bodies 

This concept is not new to porn. You might have heard the phrase “sex sells”. But why? This is because women’s bodies are commercialized and commodified. There have been ads from burgers to perfumes that use women’s bodies to sell products.  

Porn is no less; where the cameraman focuses on the female body and often forgets the male actors. These big film crews and adult film productions make millions off of women’s bodies.  

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