3 Reasons Mainstream Pornography Is Not Empowering to Women

What feelings are stirred up for you when you hear about pornography? Many feminists feel anger that this topic is even addressed. They would argue that porn is empowering to women and it is a woman’s choice as to whether she participates in acting in adult film. Others feel scared to share their true beliefs.

As for me, porn is problematic.

A Google search with the keywords “Porn is good” reveals mixed reviews of popular culture beliefs ranging from “A short word about porn: Good” (PsychologyToday) to “10 Reasons You Should Quit Watching Porn” (GQ).

This discrepancy is in part due to a sector of third-wave feminism arguing that pornography is not degrading to women but rather an empowering expression of a woman’s sexuality.

However, a recent study contradicts this popular idea that women are empowered in pornography. Over 304 scenes from the top 250 selling and rented porn movies (according to the Adult Video Network) were analyzed to provide insight on sexual practices in these top selling porn films.

An analysis of the films revealed that only 10.2% of scenes did not contain aggressive acts. A total of 3,375 verbal and physical aggressive acts were observed with 980 accounts of spanking, 795 accounts of gagging, 614 accounts of insulting, and 408 accounts of open-handed slapping being the most frequently observed. Women were nearly all the targets of the physical and verbal aggressive acts (94.4%). When women were perpetrators they frequently were aggressive to other women (17.7%). Men were victims of aggressive acts in only 4.2% of scenes, and male-to-male aggression was present in 0.3% of scenes.

After reading these statistics what feelings come up?

Read The Full Story Published on RoleReboot 

 Photo taken from Fight The New Drug

Photo taken from Fight The New Drug

Objectify Me... For The Artistic Expression. Actually Don't.

The 2015 Pirelli Calendar has just been released. It was shot by legendary photographer Steven Meisel who recently said in a press release, “In my opinion, these are the key aesthetic models of today’s world. They represent the stereotypes that the fashion and star system impose upon us right now.”[1] Well Mr. Meisel, I agree with you completely there – the fashion and star/celebrity system is yet again imposing this narrow stereotype of what beauty and feminism is.

He goes on to say, “… Since I wanted to limit the use of clothes and accessories and since I had absolute creative freedom, I found it very exciting to play with the colours, the makeup, and the materials. It was a very rewarding experience.”

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I am not against an artistic expression of beauty. I think playing with colours, make-up and materials can create powerful images. However, Mr. Meisel, the poses that you have shot these models in, is another beautiful illustration of how women are continuously sexually objectified. Women are dependably depicted in the media in ways that exclusively value their sexual and physical attractiveness.

Why is this so harmful?

Research tells us that the effect of living in a culture that sexually objectifies the woman’s body has negative impacts for both the woman and man who are viewing the sexually objectified picture.[2] When women consistently see images of other women sexually objectified it socializes them to think about themselves in terms of objects to be looked at and evaluated![3] Other studies have shown that after men view sexualized images of women they rate them as less capable intellectually and physically and score lower in egalitarian beliefs about men and women.[4]

Artistic expression is a beautiful thing. However, artistic expression that consistently portrays women in a one-dimensional narrow way is not beautiful, because the over all impact on the audience is detrimental.


[1] Wilson, J. 2014, The Pirelli Calendar 2015 Just Keeps Getting Hotter (NSFW Photos). The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/18/pirelli-calendar-2015_n_6177344.html

[2] Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women's lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology Of Women Quarterly, 21(2), 173-206. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x

[3] Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women's lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology Of Women Quarterly, 21(2), 173-206. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x

[4] Behm-Morawitz, E., & Mastro, D. (2009). The effects of the sexualization of female video game characters on gender stereotyping and female self-concept. Sex Roles61(11-12), 808-823. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9683-8