As you may know, a lot of men look at pornography. In fact I know a lot of men and they all look at pornography. Because of "Dark Side of Masculinity" type conversations that occur within male groups, men often talk about pornography with each other. They talk about what kind of porn they like and what porn actors they like to watch. Most men are addicted to pornography, this is something that most men will never admit. In our masculine culture it is considered embarrassing and shameful to be a porn addict because we are socialized to act unbeatable, and accepting addiction is accepting defeat. Ironically overcoming an addiction is what requires true strength, but anyway that's men. Men don't even want their partners to know about their pornography so they keep it secret, although exceptionally a woman will express her own interest in pornography creating a safe zone where the man will then share some of his pornographic habits. Most men are addicted to pornography and are in complete denial with porn addiction unable to be seen as a serious or true addiction in the mindset of the masses.
If you are reading my writings then you already know that I understand how pornography harms and effects women, and that I do not support pornography. But how does pornography harm and effect men?
Men are usually exposed to pornography in some form at an early age. I recall my first e
xposure to pornography when I was around ten and a friend had acquired one his dad's pornographic magazines. It wasn't anything to graphic, just nude women. As I got older I obviously saw a lot more. Due the internet
porn is easy to find and you can spare yourself the shame of buying it publicly, this means that with porn being so mainstream the problems it produces are more evident than ever. Men who watch porn experience a sexual encounter that requires absolutely no social interaction. This promotes anti social behavior when it comes to dating, but more importantly porn creates an ideology that a personal connection or mutual desire is not associated with or required for sexual intercourse. Basically men are socialized that women are objects, and the only connection you can make with an object is that you are it's master and can do what you wish with it. You can surely understand how this is problematic.
Pornography creates insecurity in men. Although most women would agree that they would rather not sleep with men who have giant 12 inch penises, porn makes men feel emasculated by not having giant 12 inch penises. Most men wish they had a bigger penis. Male porn stars typically have unusually large penises, sometimes naturally but often surgically. Constantly seeing images of women who only want men with a gigantic penis, who often comment on the penis size before, during, and after intercourse makes men feel like having a gigantic penis is the only way to possibly satisfy a women sexually. Of course this mentality only applies in situations where a man is interested in dating a woman. In instances of random and usually predatory sexual encounters, a stereo-typically masculine gendered male could care less about a women's sexual satisfaction. These types of insecurities lead to self loathing and negative impacts on their sexual performance. Men who look at pornography often have more difficulties in the bedroom. Because they are so use to seeing unrealistic looking and acting women in porn, it's hard for them to become aroused by real women. They have become desensitized to sex itself.
In Gloria Steinem's essay "Erotica vs. Pornography", she argues that erotica is acceptable with feminist ideology where pornography is not. This makes sense through a female feminist point of view, but I have certain concerns that are problematic to her case on erotica. Because men have been so socialized to see women as objects you can't just trade out the porn for erotica. While someone with a complete feminist mindset can see erotica as an art of gender equity, a masculine gendered male will still objectify the women within erotica just as he objectifies his server at a restaurant or a women he sees in a chewing gum commercial. It doesn't matter because the utter disrespect and objectification of women is so embedded and internalized that it takes much more for it to become undone.
This is why gender and women's studies is so important. When you become educated on issues like pornography, only then can you begin to understand how it is problematic for men and women. I think that gender studies should be just as basic of a subject math, science, and history. We should be learning about feminist theories and practices from and early age and onward. Only through this type of education can we finally begin to overcome and solve problems of gender inequity. Only in that future can something like erotica be truely seen by men as how it is intended.
If your partner looks at pornography, you should find some way to encourage him or her to learn more about what it is that they are doing. If you can get them to come to terms with their addiction they are more likely to overcome it and stop participating in a sub culture that promotes the violence towards women, objectification of women, degradation of women and self-degradation.
Originally posted on DSOM and my WMST class blog.