Dear Male-Dominated Porn Industry,

Dear Male-Dominated Porn Industry,

I am a high school girl writing to you about the perception that you put into young boys’ heads about women, especially regarding sex. The videos that you produce teach many of those who do not get sex education a show of sexual fantasy that harms how boys view women and normal sexual behavior. In your videos, women are often submissive and follow whatever the male lead declares. This is not an accurate representation of how sex should be handled or how women in general should be treated. When I walk in the hallways or sit on the bus, I hear guys speaking explicitly horrible things about women, what they’re going to say to them, what they are going to do to them. This “locker room” talk sustains the oppression of women, and as a woman this truly scares me. I fear men attacking me because they see it in porn or hurting me because they’ve seen it in porn. 

This portrayal of women in the porn industry encourages systemic oppression and sexism and affords men privilege. Men dominate, men are in charge, men can be violent. Many of these concepts are specicfically used by writers and directors of videos, with explicit bias, which effectively influence how men process sex and their expectations of it.  Experiments conducted by psychologists Malmuth and Check have lead to this conclusion;  “Depictions of women being sexually coerced-and liking it- tends to increase viewers’ acceptance of the false idea that women enjoy rape, and they tend to increase male viewers’ willingness to hurt women.” Evidence is telling us that porn is sending an extremely dangerous false narrative of how women should be treated during sex. It is normalizing the sexist narrative that women have been trying to escape for years.

The porn culture creates the standard of how many men evaluate women. Peggy Orenstein, an expert on male perspective on sex, has this to say about porn in culture in an interview for the Washington Post: “Boys are getting the same messages about females being valued for their appearance and sexual availability, but we don’t provide a critique or counternarrative. We need to talk about the scripts they’re learning from music, pornography and mainstream media.”  In traditional American culture, boys are taught to oppress women, and pornography is a stepping stone in that culture. Boys look to it and find that the underlying messages are that women are judged at face value and just another chance to brag to their friends about being laid.

While the majority of porn production seems to pump out these oppressive images, it would be a lie to say that there aren’t small strides working towards promotion of women in porn. Feminist porn was born from women’s oppression and aimed to set a standard in their videos, trying to promote consent and a realistic depiction of pleasure. These small factors can make a huge difference on a person’s perspective of sex. While this progress is certainly hopeful, we can’t deny that these videos are a minority on the internet and only found if sought out specifically. At the end of the day, the producers of toxic culture continue to stay ignorant and promote their degrading and oppressive messages.

I demand that all of the porn industry takes the wheel of the car and start driving down the right side of the road; portray sex realistically, with equity, where both women and men respect each other and consent to the matter at hand. This can teach a new generation of boys to see that women are not submissive or just a pretty face, but are equal, and their feelings are valid when it comes to sex. 

With appreciation,

Mel Charles

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