We hear a lot from the sex industry and pop culture about how fun and great porn is. I’m going to try hard to regularly post voices of real people, who have nothing to sell, who speak from the heart about their own experience living in our pornified culture.
This message from Suzanne Williams is taken from the Elephant Journal, you can see the original posting here.
This is a message to all the men in my life.
All the beautiful men who I know strive for equality and who would never oppress a woman knowingly. This is a message for you because there is something you need to know.
Pornography terrifies me.
And it’s a deep terror—like someone has stabbed me in the gut; like a giant planet is about to collide with the Earth.*
The strange thing is that I didn’t even realize that I felt this terror, until I started speaking to other women and realized that the terror they spoke about was in me, too. “But why am I terrified when it’s just a normal part of society?” I hear you ask.
That is what terrifies me.
Porn is so normal that my male friends can easily talk about it in front of me, (I know what the ‘wank angle’ is). Porn is so normal that you can find it in sweet shops. Porn is so normal that even the musicians that my six-year-old goddaughter likes are doing pornographic moves in bikinis.
Porn is so normal that for a long time I believed that if I wanted to please a man in bed, I needed to act like a porn star.
But where did this come from? How was I convinced that pornography should be an everyday, normal thing?
When I dredge up my internal ‘knowledge of the world’ I’m told that pornography is the result of the sexual liberation movement and is an indication that we are free to explore our sexual lives. But when did four guys wanking into a woman’s mouth become sexual liberation? What part of us is liberated by it? And is it a part of us that we really want to liberate?
What about the young girls and boys who grow up into this world where both of them are subjected to twisted ideas of what it means to have a sexual relationship with someone?
I can tell you what it does to little girls: it terrifies them. But then we numb and accept, because what else can you do at such a young age when you’re faced with a cultural norm that is designed to humiliate and degrade women. The Stockholm syndrome takes over our sexual lives, and we go and practice our porn face in the mirror.
The feeling I have now, as a grown woman, is one of rage. But to whom can I direct it? Pornography in most forms is a symptom of an oppressive, patriarchal culture that affects both women and men. Porn humiliates women and desensitizes men. It’s not solely men nor women’s fault that porn exists, but when we find ourselves watching degrading acts towards women and men being shown as insensitive abusers, then it’s our responsibility to stop watching.**
I don’t mean that we should censor all erotic acts in the media. However, we need to start listening to women when they say they are terrified of porn. Any objectification of women is violence against them and porn seems to be one of the most violent of all.
I’ve known a sensitive lover or two in my time, so I know that intelligent men can bypass the misogyny they are presented within pornography. But we still need to ask ourselves the question: do we want little girls to grow up in a world where they know that watching the degradation and humiliation of women is seen as a pleasant way to pass time?
*Watch the film Melancholia if you want to know what this feels like.
**(If you’re not sure, ask a woman to watch it with you. If you don’t want a woman to watch it with you then you’ve probably got your answer.)