Editor-in-Chief ramblings: “feminist pornography” is inherently unable to exist

Veronica Liow, Editor-in-Chief

Pornography, as it currently stands, tends to be misogynistic, with some even proudly proclaiming itself as so. As a result, the action of dehumanizing women, even though staged, perpetuates a reality in which women are objectified by men, who feel entitled to act in such a manner.

A stigma surrounds pornography for this very reason, but some argue that pornography can exist without hurting how people view women. To combat this stigma, feminists have conjured “feminist pornography”, which aims to mutually benefit both genders — assuming a binary gender system — while also eliminating negative consequences such as the objectification of women, any aggressive tendencies or the validation of rape culture.

“Feminist pornography” claims to achieve its goal through two methods: changing the perspective of the camera to take into account the female audience and establishing consent before aggressive behavior is imposed (EverydayFeminism.com).

Most pornography is made for men, especially since men tend to make up a large proportion of its audience. During a scene, when only women’s bodies are exposed, men put themselves into the position of the man committing the sexual act and thus, women’s bodies are presented as objects, which can be used at any man’s bidding. Through including the faces of women, not just sexualized organs, not only is there a decrease in the objectification of women but also an expansion of the audience to encompass both males and females.

And by establishing consent before any aggressive sexual acts are conducted, the viewer becomes more aware of the importance of obtaining consent and therefore is less likely to accept what is known  as “rape culture”.

However, pornography is, at its very foundation, an industry, meaning that it is motivated to market its product — which in pornography’s case, is bodies — towards its consumers. It strives to make the most gains regardless of the  consequences that follow, especially when proponents of the industry fall into the tragedy of the commons (when someone depletes a resource at others’ expense.)

Therefore, by the very existence of pornography as an industry, feminist pornography cannot exist, as the portrayal of women’s bodies as objects to sell automatically dehumanizes women.

Though advocates of feminist pornography claim that changing the viewpoint of a camera to include women’s faces rather than just their “assets” can eradicate the dehumanization and objectification of women, there remains prevalent instances in contemporary society in which women are objectified, regardless of whether or not their face is included in the medium.

In his essay “Looking at Women”, Scott Russell Sanders discusses the remarks of his childhood friend, Norman. Such remarks focus on the “chassis”, which represented the breasts of a girl in a pink halter, despite seeing her entire face and body.

In addition, Sanders notes that when his freshman roommate hung up “Playboy” posters of naked women on the wall, he automatically noted “every curve of buttock and breast” first. Though Sanders admits that his curiosity was not wholly sexual, it remains true that including women’s faces in pornography does not eliminate the objectification of their bodies.

Again, this is a result of pornography’s existence as an industry. Despite changing the viewpoint of the camera to encompass more than just women’s private areas, bodies are still marketed as products. Consumers, primarily men, will continue to see women’s bodies as objects to be bought.

Another method to achieve feminist pornography, as mentioned above, is establishing consent before aggressive sexual acts, as it ideally decreases the validation of “rape culture”. However, men put themselves into the role of the aggressor when watching pornography. As a result, they will continue to objectify women’s bodies in the end, and to succumb to aggressive tendencies.

An episode of “Law and Order”, titled “Pornstar’s Requiem”, shows a female student who turned to pornography due to her inability to pay off student loans. She was raped by two males, who were convicted in court until the judge overturned the jury, stating that it was the female’s fault for participating and allowing others to view her in such a manner. Essentially, despite the evident disparity between sex with consent and sex without (otherwise known as rape) not only did men still aggressively violate her, but the judge also proceeded to perpetuate victim shaming and thus rape culture.

Another example lies in “50 Shades of Grey”, which also arguably portrayed rape masked under the guise of BDSM.

Though both “Law and Order: Pornstar’s Requiem” and “50 Shades of Grey” are fictional forms of feminist pornography failing to reach its goals, such instances exist in modern society.

For example, in February 2015, a student from the University of Illinois by the name of Mohammad Hossain was charged with sexual assault.

Hossain “tied up, stripped and violently [beat the victim] to tears”, according to the New York Daily News.

A meta analysis of 46 studies supports that pornographic material can increase the risk of developing sexually deviant tendencies by 31 percent, of committing sexual offenses by 22 percent and of accepting rape myths by 31 percent.

Evidently, there is an increase of aggressive tendencies associated with violent pornography, despite attempts to establish consent beforehand as to prevent rape culture from progressing.

So as long as pornography remains a profit-motivated industry, it will continue to capitalize on women’s bodies, thus disallowing feminist pornography to ever exist.