Acting in pornography is not liberating for women
Views 116 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 10 - 25 - 2017 | By: Vanessa Acain
The underlying goal of feminism is the social, economic, and political equality between the sexes. More recently, feminism has reignited the fight for sexual equality. Fourth-wave feminism is pressing for the acceptance and destigmatization of sex work. Pro-sex industry feminists such as Anne Thériault argue that sex work provides women an opportunity to reclaim their bodies from patriarchal repression. Although the act of choosing to be a sex worker may have feminist implications, the industry itself is still oppressive and dominated by the patriarchy. The pornography facet of the sex industry is not liberating for women.
Sex work has been criticized and stigmatized for a variety of reasons. The sex industry has been mentally, emotionally, and physically detrimental to women. More often than not, women are characterized as an object to be used and abused for male pleasure. Most sexual storylines are misogynistic. Gender stereotypes are reinforced where masculinity is represented through power, dominance, and physical strength while femininity is illustrated as weak and dependent on men. Furthermore, if women of color are represented at all, it is through kinks and fetishes. Pornography subjects women to expectations of how they should look, that they should put their pleasure second, and that they should be servicing men. Plain and simple: porn is made for men.
For many, pornography is the way sex is first encountered, especially for young teens. In a study on webroot.com, 60 percent of of 2,500 student respondents revealed that they watched porn to get information about sex. What many don’t understand is that porn is an exaggerated version of reality, a complete performance. This creates a false reality in which sex and sexuality are portrayed as hard and aggressive. For women, sex is more about connection and communication, and it should be that way for both men and women. Sex work is not just work. Porn is does nothing but reinforce the idea that women are just objects to be used at the disposal of men. Porn and sex are almost used interchangeably with each other and because of that both need to be redefined.
Sex was created to be an act of love between two people who want to show that love through their own bodies in an emotional, mental, and spiritual connection. Pornography does not teach this to the younger generation. Sex should be done consensually, safely, respectfully, and with positive energy that circulates between both partners.
Erika Lust, feminist erotic film maker, argues that one of the main problems with porn is that women have few opportunities to produce and direct pornos. Because of this, Lust’s team consists of mostly women to create pornography that centers on strong female characters representing their female sexuality from a sex-positive perspective. Lust emphasizes the importance of women taking charge of their own pleasure, unlike mainstream pornography which focuses on male pleasure.
But Lust is a rare example. I am all for women expressing themselves in a way that they deem empowering. But sex work today is not empowering for women. It won’t be until more women like Erika Lust are in the industry. Not until women aren’t called sluts for having sex while men are praised. Not until it is fully acknowledged that women are not objects to be used and abused in cases of rape, sexual assault, and catcalls. And especially not until men, women, and children are not forced into the sex industry through human trafficking.