Saklad: One Click

Online porn consumption instigates harm to all women.

by Avery Saklad | 7/5/19 2:00am

From the time you learned about sex in grade school until wherever you find yourself now, I’m sure that you have come across porn. Perhaps you have even thought twice about your own consumption. In front of a computer screen, it can feel so easy to disconnect ourselves from our actions. Clicking a link seems inconsequential, completely unattached both physically and emotionally from something recorded or photographed by strangers. And besides, most people watch porn — even if they won’t talk about it or admit it. 

Pornography, which has become a rite of passage into adulthood for the sexually frustrated and curious youth, oftentimes becomes a habit. However, the availability and social normalization of porn doesn’t justify its consumption; it is the responsibility of every individual to evaluate for herself the morality of porn use, and in order to do so, it is imperative to understand its implications and consequences. 

Pornography disempowers every woman, not just the ones on film. Women in the pornography industry play predominantly submissive roles that glorify male power over female bodies, which leads to the unhealthy objectification of women outside of the realm of pornography. Primarily men, who are 543 percent more likely to watch porn than women, are encouraged by pornography to assess women’s bodies like slabs of meat, looking for prime cuts of breast and butt and thigh. 

And to be honest, many women’s bodies aren’t likely to live up to the physical standards of professional industry actresses. Our breasts are uneven, and our stretch marks and acne scars are not concealed by makeup. A real-life woman doesn’t have time to think about alluring body movements or their most flattering angles. Porn essentially sets people up for disappointment because the nonrepresentational female bodies and over-exaggerated moaning create unrealistic scenarios of what it’s actually like to have sex with a woman. This in turn makes women feel inadequate for not living up to male fantasies of females in general. 

Contrarily, there are feminists who claim pornography can actually serve to empower women by promoting female sexuality and displaying realistic female bodies. While I, too, think that it is important to recognize that women are also human beings who have sexual urges and deserve to express themselves sexually, the fact of the matter remains that most females in the porn industry are not liberated by their work. Yes, there are empowering female porn sites that promote respectful content and support the women who work for them. Their videos promote sex that empowers women and opposes sexually abusive content. But the videos on the most popular sites — i.e. the ones frequented by men — focus on conventionally attractive female bodies and are commonly directed by and largely profitable for men to the benefit of male consumers. And while it’s true that female performers tend to make more income from a single video than their male counterpart, ultimately, it’s the men in the porn industry who are making the big bucks, in part due to longevity of their careers. A study conducted by data journalist Jon Millward found that while around 70 percent of porn performers are women, 96 percent of the most prolific porn performers are male and a woman’s porn career tends to be between only six and 18 months. Throughout the duration of their careers, female performers may also face sexual abuse, a reality exacerbated and revoltingly fetishized by a market eager for videos showcasing women being choked, hit or forcefully penetrated during sex. While the women in these videos may technically have consented to these acts, they still promote sexual violence, and performers may have been coerced with money or job security to offer official consent.  

Furthermore, with the rising popularity of amateur pornography, porn star’s wages are decreasing and competition for roles within the industry, especially among women, is getting tougher. 

Were pornography a female-dominated industry that offered women substantial and stable paychecks and whose content enabled positive expressions of female sexuality and a range of body types, I would be in full support. Until that day becomes a reality, however, I believe that even female-centric porn sites contribute to the normalization and perpetuation of a generally harmful industry that on the whole disempowers women. 

When you click on a link to a video on a porn site, it may seem harmless, but it actually means offering implicit support of a whole host of issues that can be directly correlated to porn. That one click contributes to a global phenomenon of female marginalization and harm. That one click puts money into an industry’s wallet that will then fund the exploitation of women. That one click is your choice, and it means something.