7.4
October 15, 2013

How Does Porn Affect Women? {NSFW}

Here is the simple truth: porn makes women feel bad about themselves.

It makes us feel as if we are not interesting enough, young enough, thin enough, hot enough, wanton enough… the list is long.

I can already hear the cries from the peanut gallery, “Speak for yourself!”

Okay, I will—but you better believe I’m speaking for a lot of other women too.

I’m coming to this subject from a relatively unique viewpoint. Though I have never been involved in porn, I am an ex-dancer. (Which, many people think is the same thing. Allow me to disavow you of that notion. Dancers dance, people in porn have sex. Yes, there can be an overlap there, but that is not the norm and was never the case for me or 99 percent of the girls with whom I danced.)

You might think my being an ex-dancer de-sensitized me to porn—not true. If anything, it made me more aware of my feelings about pornography; because I was associated with it in a round about way, and because it was generally assumed that I was okay with it, possibly even liked it.

I hate porn.

And whenever I say or hear the word “hate,” I know that what I’m really hearing or saying is the word “fear.” So, I am afraid of porn.

Why? What is there to be afraid of?

At its most-basic level, porn is merely an image or group of images designed to gratuitously portray sex. These images are populated by strangers who we will never know or meet, and as such, appear to be benign.

Porn has been around since the dawn of time—all cultures have it, it’s human nature to enjoy titillation. Similarly, all cultures have people who think pornography is unethical, shameful, hurtful or just wrong. So the debate about its worth is as old as porn itself.

I am not in the business of shaming or telling other people what their ethics should be. I don’t think you are a bad person if you watch porn—or frankly, even if you are in porn.

And maybe I truly only have a problem with it because I still struggle with my own self-esteem. Why should it matter to me if my husband watches it? He’s not going to call up any of the women he sees and ask them out for coffee. He doesn’t want to be married to them. It’s like being hurt because he’s reading a comic book. It’s just a comic book, right?

Wrong.

First of all, when I see women in porn, I see real people with real feelings. (My apologies to the men here… I know there must be emotional issues for male actors as well, but I have no sense of what they are. Perhaps that’s another piece of the puzzle.)

Many porn actresses will go to their grave saying they “love their job,” and only they can know, but I’m still going to call ‘bullshit’ when I see it. In my opinion, the only woman who likes to get fucked on camera for the untold masses has a big self-esteem problem. If that’s true, then porn is victimization. We are deriving pleasure from someone else’s pain.

Also, while I don’t expect to be the be-all, end-all for any guy I’m with, I would like to believe that my body, heart and soul are more interesting than a 19-year old with a bald undercarriage and a “money shot” sliding off her face. (Ew. I seriously just grossed myself out there.)

Men should know that porn isn’t harmless, even if they watch it in secret. I understand that men are visual creatures, and that they are born with the instinct to spread their seed (or maybe I only think I understand that because that’s what I’ve been told by every man I ever knew since I was a wee lass), but what ever happened to self control? If you know what you are doing is hurtful to someone you care about, or hurtful to someone you don’t know, but who is human all the same, why would you continue to do it?

In answer to the question of: What am I afraid of?—I’m thinking, a lot of things.

I am afraid of living in a time when pornography has been normalized and is becoming an ever-more predominant part of our daily lives. I am afraid that porn will rob me of the ability to embrace my own sexuality, because my understanding of healthy sex has been so hopelessly skewed. I am afraid that porn will forever color and shade my feelings and perceptions about sex, and that I will never know what a porn-free world might feel like.

My fantasy has nothing to do with being tied up, or watching other people copulate, or being swept away by a knight in shining armor.

My fantasy is simply to enjoy real sex, without all the extraneous crap that’s been handed down to me from a male-dominated culture. My fantasy is to feel like a sexy, confident woman all the time. My fantasy is to have that happen in a world where every other woman feels the same way, and we can all reflect the eroticism of self-celebration back upon each other.

 

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Ed: Sara Crolick

 

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