Mar 172010

For the record, because it’s come up, porn doesn’t cause violence against women. It’s true.

There’s a correlation between violent porn and men who perpetrate violence against women – that is, men who are interested in violence against women are, unsuprisingly, interested in violence against women – but it’s not causal. The majority of men are not interested in violent porn, they’re just interested in images of people having sex.

At the same time, let me add that the production of mainstream porn can be very bad for women, and the sexualization of the mainstream media is unambiguously bad for women (see here). The more women are represented as sex objects, the more young women learn that their value lies in their bodies’ conformity to fictional standards and the pleasure they can offer men. Which is bad for women.

However, it doesn’t cause violence.

And there are ways to produce porn that are not bad for women. (Incidentally I’ll follow the political career of Anna Arrowsmith with interest.) See also Sir Videos, Fatale media, Tristan Taormino, Nina Hartley, Candida Royalle, Jane Hamilton, and Comstock Films.

So porn? Not so bad as its reputation, though plenty misogynist, like a lot of stuff in the mainstream. I’m more worried about the covers of Cosmo and Glamor than I am about porn; magazine covers and the image of women they present cause women to perpetrate violence against themselves in the form of body image problems, eating disorders, etc.

I admit I’m also troubled by the easy access to assault/rape/violent porn provided by the internet. I’m including here the extremely disturbing videos with women who are passed out drunk. I want a big flashing sign over these images that says, “THIS IS ASSAULT, NOT SEX.”

HINT TO BOYS: Just because it arouses you physiologically doesn’t mean it’s good or right or even sexy. Think to yourself, “Is she saying yes right now? Is she free to say no?” If the answer is no, ignore your penis.