[I’m going to] talk about the word pornography and what pornography is as a genre. It comes from Greek words and the word ‘pornei’ originally meant female sex slave and it was in Ancient Greece the lowest, cheapest - in the literal sense, class of prostitute. It was literally female sex slaves. It was women who had been forced into prostitution and who were considered disgusting, dirty, cheap, vile and who were available for people, and especially men, to do anything they wanted with.
And then the word ‘graphos’ means writing, or sketching, or drawing of and so when you put the two together the word ‘pornography’ basically means ‘depicting female sexual slavery’ or ‘depicting women as vile whores’.
So going back to this [idea] where people sometimes have this simplistic understanding that porn is just sex in a neutral way and that’s all it is and it can be anything people make it out to be, I think we need to understand that as a genre it’s always been explicitly and very intentionally woman-hating and sexist. It’s never been about the kind of neutral sexuality that some people seem to think it is about. And we see evidence of that when we look at the way that porn has evolved over the past few decades.
How it’s increasingly gone more violent, more degrading, more sexist, more woman-hating, more body-punishing and that’s because porn as a genre is specifically about sexuality as violence, it’s about forced sex, it’s about woman-hating, it’s not again, some kind of neutral sexuality.
So whether the pornography in question is directed by people who consider themselves feminists or whether it’s supposedly ‘regular’ pornography, there have been a lot of studies that have looked at how pornography has influenced people who watch it and especially men who watch pornography and the reason why I’m emphasizing men is two reasons. One is that most of the consumers are male and the second one is that, even besides the issue of pornography, we live in a society that encourages men to be aggressive, dominant, to relate to women in certain ways and boys are basically raised thinking that they need to be the dominant ones, they need to be aggressive, they need to be more assertive, they need to always come out on top. And so, when you take that social pressure and that kind of socialization and then you have boys and men who consume pornography, who watch it, who absorb all of the messages in it, the affect is basically disastrous.
There’s study-after-study-after-study-after-study that shows that porn desensitizes men to violence against women and even worse than that, that pornography - not only does it desensitize them to violence against women, but that it [also] shapes the way they see sex. So that sex for them becomes about conquest, it becomes about violence, it becomes about treating women badly, it becomes tied to all of these things so that it’s hard for men and boys who have been raised by pornography to even imagine sex in a different way or to even feel sexually aroused unless they’re dominant, unless they’re sexually aggressive.