Suzy, one of our students, published an article titled "Why am Terrified of Porn" after a workshop where we had a women's group and a men's group explore what we wanted to do about eliminating sexism.  

Writing this article was one of her committments, and it generated a lot of discussion, here on the original site, but also in various threads in facebook, for example here, here and here (you might need to befriend the people or join the group to see these discussions)

& this was Stella's response, which includes many useful reference links.

What Mel writes is very interesting.

You say "What turns them (men) on in porn scenarios depends crucially on the fact that the woman is depicted as excited. If she were depicted as primarily hurt and humiliated, these men would instantly lose their interest and erections."

Yet this is patently false and demonstrably so.  There is a spectrum of porn which goes from 'soft' to 'hard' and the extreme violent end (which the 'softer' porn acts as a gateway drug to) includes 'snuff movies' where real women are kidnapped, sexually tortured and then killed on camera, for this to be sold on to others who enjoy such thrills.   

Most men who enjoy (and buy) this stuff all started with 'softer' porn (if they didn't encounter violent porn to begin with).  
And this is easy to understand if we consider porn a drug, rather than 'harmless entertainment' or a 'preference' people have.  

Porn is a Drug

Vídeo de YouTube

from minute 3:37


Vídeo de YouTube

from minute 7:44

These men explain the biochemical stuff that happens in the brain when we use any drug, and how it's exactly the same that happens with porn.  

So apart from -
... this all rather suggests that hurting and humiliating women does very much act as a turn on for men who consume porn.   

The Icelandic Example

Although there are conflicting studies about the correlation of porn with sexual violence (feminist researchers - usually unfunded - generally agree that 'porn is the theory, rape is the practice', but remember there is a multi-million dollar industry interested in finding other 'results', and we know research is hugely influenced by financing interests), one interesting case points to the fact that there is a strong correlation between socially regulating pornography and our human ability (willingness?) to change society in a wider sense. 

This might be a complete coincidence of course, but I doubt it very much:  
Iceland is not only the only country in the world today to have banned most forms of pornography, but also unique in (subsequently) being the first and most effective country to change politically in the great 'occupy' uprisings that happened world-wide between 2011 & 2012 (started in 2008 in Iceland and totally ignored by the media).

That this intersting 'coincidence' isn't noted in either set of articles, and that both sets of quite impressive news are generally supressed in the media is what I find most interesting & telling about this.  

Misogyny & Sexual Response

Even more interestingly Mel says:  " (men) secretly believe that women are unhappy and relentlessly dissatisfied with men and their own lives. In the service of masturbation, these portrayals of "women in heat" momentarily reassure men against their fears, relieve their burdens and offer them a freedom they find lacking in relationships with real women."

'Secretly believe'? Yet you say they in fact they do "find (this freedom) lacking in relationships with real women."  Why not call a spade a spade and just admit there ARE huge frustrations happening between women and men sexually and relationally?

Maybe because that would point out that there's some big confusion around cause and effect here?

I would suggest that it is fairly obvious that a hugely misogynistic culture where women are portrayed as objects (even if you never set eyes on 'official' porn, pornographic representations of women are, infact, everywhere - see Killing-us-Softly) and then sexualizes & glorifies violence against women in zillions of ways .. might actually set us all up for these kinds of difficulties?  
Certainly just from a quick overview of my own life & circle of women friends I do get the impression that most of us are very much "unhappy and relentlessly dissatisfied with men and our own lives".   

So is it a service to us, or more likely a hinderance, to have men get a momentary relief for any guilt (sense of responsibility), frustration or difficulty they might feel about this? 
Or that women are set up to believe we have to torture our bodies in miriads of ways (see beauty industry statistics) to try to become models or (increasingly) porn stars in order to satisfy men sexually (= be loved)?
How about working to educate us all to use that frustration as a motivation to actually change things?  

And Mel, please ... is it really ok for you that women are portrayed in porn as enjoying being sexually humiliated?  
Because the naiveté of this statement truly astounds me:  "often the woman is portrayed as dominated, hurt or even degraded, but in the porno she's excited and eager. Men are doing these bad-looking things, but the women are enjoying them. Our psyches are amazing things, really."   ('bad looking'?  how about calling it what it is: sadistic?)

What exactly do you find 'amazing' about men (and, increasingly, women) being conditioned by porn to believe (and enact) that women enjoy being sexually humiliated?  
Way back in Freud's day we learned that sexual arousal is to a great extent a learned response: whatever we learn to associate with such a strong primal drive then easily becomes a trigger for sexual arousal: something that is then very difficult (if not impossible) to change.    

Hence fetishes (which Freud was interested in), and (I would argue, apart from the horrific rape, sexual trafficking and violent porn statistic) certainly one reason for the great difficulties universally found in matching mens and women's sexual responses, in the 'civilized' world: since often women learn about sexual arousal from romantic stories whilst men learn it from porn.   That must be a disaster waiting for happen and the fact that romantic fantasy is increasingly replaced by porn fantasy even for women now is very much not something to celebrate. 

Effects of Porn Culture

The average age for consumption of porn online now is 11 years old.  Mostly boys, but some 30% are female consumers.

To imagine this does not massively distort (and negatively) the real-life sexual lives of new generations is incredibly naive. 

I would hope it's simply common sense, but if you need research, there are (apart from many feminists) quite a few people busy studying this from time.  

For example Cindy Gallop (who created, see  

Vídeo de YouTube

Cindy is no feminist, I believe, and uses & defends porn herself, but has made a big effort to try to educate about the difference between 'real life' and 'porn'.  

So much for our ability to distinguish fantasy from reality.  Am sure some people can, but it's fairly obvious to me that we are all conditioned in varying degrees by whatever stories and especially images - & much more so if conected to emotions and body reactions, like sexual arousal.  This is not freedom, but yet another kind of slavery.

Male Allies

There are some great men also, working on educating us about the consequences of porn.
Some of them here:

Why I stopped watching porn

by Ran Gavrieli

Vídeo de YouTube

How Porn affects the Brain

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The great porn experiment

Gary Wilson

Vídeo de YouTube

Pornography Is What the End of the World Looks Like

by Chris Hedges

Thankfully there are other wonderful male allies fighting alongside female feminists to end this vicious cycle of violence, so horribly 'normalized' in our culture.  

Some inspiring examples here:

Violence against women—it's a men's issue

Jackson Katz

Vídeo de YouTube

Tony Porter: A call to men

Vídeo de YouTube

Sexism in gaming

Paul Verhoeven

Vídeo de YouTube

Breaking the Boys Code of Masculinity

Bill Pozzobon 

Vídeo de YouTube

Unmasking masculinity 

- helping boys become connected men, Ryan McKelley

Vídeo de YouTube

Be A Man

Joe Ehrmann

Vídeo de YouTube

Fundamentally, porn, like any other drug, disconnects us from ourselves, and from other people, the planet and our souls.  And to that extent it harms us all, as it dehumanizes us.   

It's one of the many, many drugs civilization has invented to keep us numb, dumb, and powerless to change this sick system into something more rational, humane and creative.

Thankyou very much Suzy for your courage in writing this article.  Porn terrifies me too, and the glib responses to it being about 'pleasure' in a world so full of sexual violence against women terrify me even more.