The Problem with Porn
I submit that the selling of sex is inherently pernicious. Affluent, entrepreneurial call girls and consenting porn-actresses are part and parcel of a worldwide conspiracy that includes sex slavery and the rape of children.
The problem with porn is not obscenity, and I’m not arguing that so-called pornographic images or words ought to be wholly restrained by the government. Depictions of human sexuality are not inherently obscene, thus the censorship argument moot. Government intervention is not the ideal solution. Instead, I’m advocating for a social order where human sexuality is not essentialized and commodified.
The primary problem with porn is that it warps genuine expressions of sexuality between human beings. Humans who masturbate to internet pornography are – perhaps unknowingly – engaging in classical conditioning: pairing the stimulus of porn with the supremely positive reinforcement of orgasm. The sheer volume of depicted sex acts available and the variety of bodies on display conspire to thwart genuine expressions of sexual intimacy in personal relationships. Sexual intimacy in personal relationships is a lot different from the way sex is depicted in pornography, but if the expectations of one (or both) partners have been conditioned by pornography, frustration is inevitable.
The secondary problem with porn is that it is harmful to women, in that it facilitates a paradigm in which men buy and sell access to the bodies of women. Usually, when a human body is treated as a tradable commodity, that’s considered slavery and deemed morally repugnant, but not so with women. This is not only directly, viscerally damaging to the unfortunate souls whose bodies are sold for the infliction of the most violent, misogynist fantasies, but also to the women in less pitiful circumstances, who interact every day with users of pornography who hold positions of power. If a cop, or a judge, or a teacher watches – and gets off to – pornography in which women are humiliated, degraded, or abused, he is conditioning himself to see women as sex objects, which inevitably (consciously or not) colors his professional experience with all female-bodied persons.
The availability of women’s bodies for men’s unilateral sexual pleasure in internet porn promotes and facilitates a world in which women’s bodies are treated as commodities. The very notion of “sex work” is suspect, because it perpetuates the idea that human sexuality is an object to be casually bought and sold, rather than a performative expression of vulnerability and power, and arguably the situs of the utmost intimate experiences known to humankind. The way I see it, internet porn, traditional media porn, prostitution, strip-dancing, lap-dancing, and other forms of sex work all lie along of continuum of harms; none can claim innocence from the subjugation of women and children.
In pointing out these problems with porn, my goal is to not to eradicate from society any and all depictions of human sexuality. Rather, I seek to facilitate a world where people are free to imagine their own uniquely personal sexual fantasies, in which porn seems like a cheap substitute for real human sexual expression, and to move towards a notion of human sexuality that is more personal and more satisfying for all participants. I seek to expand the parameters of what people think sex is about, to decouple sex from domination, to reclaim female sexuality from the swirling abyss of capitalist misogyny, and to highlight the ways in which sexuality and social inequality intersect.