Sometimes, I hear Christians mentioning porn. They agree (at least to each other’s faces) that it is bad, but many of them seem to think the main issue with porn is the lust in the attitude of the one who looks at it. That may have been the case (sort of) in the era when porn meant a nipple-showing young woman (no man on the photo) in a magazine kept under a mattress, but that is not the case now.
In today’s world, more than 80% of the most popular porn show violence, physical and verbal, against women.* Titles of porn are things like “Asian/ Busty/ Latina/ black/ blonde […crude terms for women..] punished/ raped/ gets what’s coming to her.” Actions in pornography are women gagging and vomiting because of rough oral use, women choked, slapped, their hair pulled, penetrated by 3 men, etc. This means that porn is not a fantasy – real, actual women get hurt in making the porn.
Before you answer: “But she consented”, consider that this “consent” is done in an industry known for pressuring women and treating them like meat, which often does worse things during the scene than what they said beforehand will happen. Pornographers are, of course, experienced in pressuring young, inexperienced women. The majority of porn actresses uses drugs to cope, and a drugged woman cannot give consent.
And remember that with sex, consent could be withdrawn: If you said “yes” yesterday but “no” today, your partner could not sleep with you today. In porn, the video is on the Internet forever, even when someone in it no longer wants it to be seen like that.
That is, when there is any consent at all. In one study, 49% of human trafficking victims testified that porn was made of them. The viewer of porn cannot know he (or she) is not getting off on an actual rape. Women in porn often look unhappy, shocked and in pain – because they are.
And how does porn user respond to this violence? They get off to it. To get off to women getting hurt is literally to love cruelty. It goes against the second one of what Jesus called the two greatest commandments: “…Love others as yourself.”
Many Christians do not treat this as serious, and even ask women to act like porn stars for their porn-loving husbands:
She: “My husband watch porn.”
Well-meaning friend: “Then be adventurous. Do some of the acts in the porn with him.”
WHAT IT MEANS
She: “My husband gets off on cruelty towards women.”
Well-meaning friend: “Then let him take out the cruelty on you.”
Do you notice the misogyny in that assumption?
Misogyny not only shows in the way porn actresses are treated in man/ woman porn. It is even a part of gay and female dominated porn. For example, male subs in porn are usually insulted with words that mean they are not masculine enough – masculine is a good thing they fall short of. With porn done to women, it is assumed that womanhood itself, not failing at femininity, is a reason to mistreat them.
Why, if violence in porn is so bad, do so few people talk about it? One answer is that many people are so blinded to anything else when seeing *S*E*X*!* that they do not notice the violence. To quote anti-porn expert Gail Dines:
“When violence is sexualized, you render violence invisible.”
Another is that treating women as less than, as objects, is so normal in almost all cultures that porn merely emphasizes what most of society – including religious gender hierarchist society – say. When the whole world says women should accept bad treatment and go along with what men want, we are not shocked to see just that in porn.
This violence has a terrible effect on our youth: Children who watch porn do not have any ability to understand how this violence is abnormal, how this is the fantasies of sex offenders acted out on real female bodies. Children, when watching porn, only want to learn what sex is like. Of course, these images are arousing to these young teens, and they learn that sex is violent and violence sexy. Boys learn they should be violent, girls they should enjoy – or pretend to enjoy – any and all forms of violence against them. This is why teen girls nowadays are being treated for internal injuries because of porn-inspired sex.
There is also a second wise approach, except for using violence against women as a starting point for discussing porn. The other way treats it as an addictive drug, that harms both the addict and those around him (or her). And it still makes the “just do what your porn addict husband wants you to do” advice terrible: Addictions cannot be solved by giving the addict his fix.
If you take one thing home from my article, please know that porn is not just against Christian thinking in the “do not lust” sense. It is anti-Christian even in the basic, second-biggest-commandment-equal-to-the-biggest “love others as yourself” sense. If you need another text, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:10a) is still close to the heart of why porn/ prostitution exploits women and children. Lust, too, is better understood if we think of it as a way to see humans as objects for use, instead of viewing it as a desire to do fun things.
Another source linking to how porn leads to negative attitudes: (increased risk of “believing things that would reduce your empathy for a rape victim or lead you to blame a rape victim”, of developing sexually deviant tendencies, and of committing sexual offenses, attitudes that support sexual violence against women…)