I am currently taking a women’s studies course called Women and Violence. Many of the readings I have been assigned have been about pornography and its links with violence against women. A lot of the porn available today is marketed toward straight men and is chock-full of objectification of women. Women in this type of porn (which makes up probably the majority of the porn available) are portrayed as vapid beings only useful for men’s sexual desires. I’m sure we’ve all seen it.
Even more disturbing is porn that is violent against women, such as content depicting scenes in which the woman is obviously meant to appear non-consenting to acts such as anal sex, gang bangs, and various types of penetration. For example, I once saw a video in which a man was shown forcing his Spanish-speaking maid to take her clothes off. He is shown literally ripping her shirt off her body, while she repeatedly says, “No, por favor, no!” In another video, a man enters a sleeping woman’s room. He proceeds to look at and touch her genitals while she is sleeping, and masturbates. He ejaculates on her face and leaves; she wakes up soaking wet and confused. These videos and others eroticize non-consensual sexual activity and violence against women.
Yeah, this might be a little sexist. Just saying.
However, arguing that we must eliminate all pornography is ridiculous. It’s not impossible to create pornography that is not sexist. Many of the porn links posted by Violet Blue on Tiny Nibbles is perfectly fine, in my opinion - often it’s couples porn (nonviolent porn meant to depict intimacy in a loving relationship), BDSM in which both men AND women dominate, gay/lesbian porn, and other non-patriarchal porn. Why can’t more porn be this way?
Now this doesn’t seem so bad.
It’s because of rape culture and sexism that most of our porn is NOT the gender-equal kind I just described. If we did not have a rape culture to begin with, there would be little demand for anti-woman porn. I disagree that eliminating porn would greatly reduce violence against women; I think a change in attitude would change porn, and eliminating the offending types of porn. Though this is just anecdotal, the men I know that are respectful of women and refuse to partake in sexism also tend to watch pretty gender-equal, nonviolent porn when they watch it. They have no interest in watching women be hurt or abused - it doesn’t turn them on. I believe this is a direct result of their disgust with sexism and violence against women. If we can just get more people to care the same way they do, violent and sexist porn would begin to disappear, giving way to more sexy, nonsexist pornography.
Sometimes I feel like all my posts about sexism end with pointing out the need to end rape culture. But it’s so true. Rape culture is the primary mechanism with which patriarchy and sexism are maintained. I encourage all my readers to get involved in ending rape culture and empowering women, through organizations such as the National Organization for Women. While it’s important to avoid engaging in sexist behaviors, this is passive. In order to change our culture, active participation in movements against sexism is necessary. Please get involved!
I <3 Female Orgasm is a sex education program that travels to college campuses to educate students about female sexuality. It was created by educators Marshall Miller and Dorian Solot. Last week, it was presented at my college. It has come to my school every year for the past seven, and is always very popular. People begin to line up an hour ahead of time. Everyone wants to learn about female orgasms!
I’ve been to the program twice and I absolutely love it. It’s very informative, and hilarious. Both men and women are welcome to attend. At the beginning of the program, some basic information about female sexuality is shared, plus the fake orgasm clip from “When Harry Met Sally” for some comic relief. Then, the men and women are separated for about 20 minutes (anyone who identifies as transgendered is welcome to attend either group) to talk about things that might be uncomfortable with the opposite sex present. I attended the female group and I felt that it was an open, accepting atmosphere. We were invited to list ways to improve orgasms (which included feeling safe, adding toys, and communication), then share our first orgasm stories. The other women in the room really enjoyed sharing their stories. Many were surprised to learn that some female have orgasms from exercising! Afterward, the men returned and the program continued as a co-ed program for another 45 minutes or so. Questions were encouraged, and the information offered was inclusive and informative.
At the end, the educators stuck around for audience members to privately ask them questions. In addition, their book, “I <3 Female Orgasm,” was available for sale, and books filled with photos of real women’s vulvas were left out for audience members to flip through (to show how diverse women’s vulvas really look).
I love the I <3 Female Orgasm program! I would highly recommend attending if it ever comes to a campus near you - even if you think you know a lot about female sexuality, it is still a lot of fun to attend! In my opinion it’s one of the best female sexuality education programs out there.
For more information about sexual health, check out my sex ed links on my Link Love page!