I’ve discussed pornography a great deal, but mostly to talk about its deleterious effects on women and women’s rights. However, it’s important to talk about its effects on men, too. And not the current discussion of “awareness” of how pornography makes men impotent and pushes them to divorce. I don’t care about that at all, and I don’t know why this sort of discourse about pornography has taken so much importance, apart from the fact that men generally only care about issues that affect them personally and don’t give a shit about women. So it’s a purely pragmatic move. I’m not saying it’s wrong (it is true that pornography has these effects), but I won’t talk about it on this blog.
My point here is not to trot out the old bromide that “gender hurts men too.” While it is true, it is not a relevant statement. Likewise, we can say truthfully that inequality also hurts the rich, but that’s not a good reason to oppose inequality, because the rich are still privileged over everyone else. Gender may hurt men, but it doesn’t hurt their privilege, since gender is the creator of that very privilege. I just wanted to make that clear before I address the main issue.
Pornography grooms girls into self-abusers and rape victims. But there’s another side to that equation: there’s no rape victim without a rapist. Pornography grooms men into abusers and rapists. When men and women see representations of verbal and sexual violence on screen, they integrate it differently. A woman sees another woman receive violence in a medium which is supposedly a representation of sex, and she will believe that violence against women is sexy. The representations of women will make her question her own desirability.
When a man sees these same acts, he sees himself as the perpetrator. He identifies with the men who use verbal and sexual violence against women in what he believes (and has been pushed on him) as a representation of sex. So these children, who are raised on pornography from the age of 11 or earlier, are taught to equate sex with violence. Not only that, but they are taught that women love violence. And they are taught that they should want to have sex with women whose appearance fits a very narrow an unrealistic range, the implication being that those women who do not fit that range are basically worthless.
Some pornsick men argue that everyone is able to make the difference between pornography and real sex, and that therefore pornography does not serve a socializing role. But arguing that children can make the difference between pornography and real sex is silly, because there are no representations of actual sex available to them. Furthermore, as I’ve argued before, this view is based on a bizarre model of socialization which posits that there is no such thing as the subconscious, and that children somehow filter everything they see and hear through their rational faculties and are free to reject any message they wish. Such a no-subconscious model is not based on any studies or observations: it is a make-believe model, with absolutely no evidence or validity, used to support a certain victim-blaming view of the world (if you’ve been socialized in a certain way, it’s because you really wanted it and accepted it consciously).
We already know from an entire generation of young women what the result of this indoctrination is. They report that young men are pressuring them to perform pornographic acts. They report that young women are dressing in a more and more pornographic manner. They are seeing a growing incidence of STDs and injuries caused by unsafe sex in young women. These are all factual things happening today thanks to a generation raised by pornography from the youngest age.
We usually talk about grooming from the point of view of an abuser grooming a young child into accepting sexual abuse. This is what pornographers (and the pornographic elements of the mainstream media), grown men, are doing to young girls. But the grooming of young boys is one of reproducing their abuse patterns. Due to the testimonies of countless pornography actresses, we know for a fact that pornographers abuse and exploit women’s sexuality routinely, and they are teaching generations of boys to do the same in their own way. It is an inter-generational repetition of abuse.
The end result is that, while heterosexual men could have sex lives that fulfill both themselves and their partner’s needs, they end up pornsick, unable to get turned on by their partners, unable to be intimate or have sex, dependent on pornography. And this ends up hurting the people around them. Furthermore, women who complain about the use of pornography publicly are told by “expert” men that they should shut up and watch pornography with their partner in order to save their relationship. Or to put it another way: women should get cozy with the system that pushes for their abuse. This is nothing new for women. But women don’t deserve this shit. What women deserve is a world where men are socialized using models of healthy sexual relationships. Not pornography. Any man who says otherwise is a pornsick asshole who deserves nothing but public ridicule. They are no “experts” at all.
Humans are social animals. We’re born to mimic. We figure out what’s expected of us by observing others in the same role. Our children are taught how to be sexual beings by an industry dedicated to making money by creating and deepening addiction to violent imagery. The end result will be a generation of men who don’t know how to love and a generation of women for whom sexual abuse is routine. The damage is done, but we need to pull the emergency cord right now to prevent this from happening to future generations as well.
The support for pornography is not only anti-women, but it is also anti-children. No one deserves to be stunted sexually because of an industry. No one deserves to grow up to be abused. No one deserves to grow up to be an abuser. If you support pornography, then what you’re saying is that you don’t give a shit about children. You can’t claim to care about children, ensuring that they have the best childhood possible, believing that all children should be raised in a healthy environment, and at the same time raise them to be abused or abusers.