Big Fat Lie: Porn Empowers Women

Some believe pornography can actually be empowering for women.

For instance, Betty Dodson has been an outspoken feminist leader since the 1970s. While she doesn’t think porn offers the best in sexual education and she would prefer men generate their own mental fantasies, she sees nothing is wrong with masturbating to porn on occasion. Moreover, porn is not just nice entertainment for men, it can also be empowering for women because of its ability to challenge the norms of our society that would control a woman’s sexual freedoms.

Ms. Dodson likens modern porn stars to the royal courtesans in Sumeria or the temple priestesses in ancient Egypt or the Amazon women of Lesbos—ancient women who had real social power. Dodson writes, “In order for women to progress, we must question all authority, be willing to challenge any rule aimed at controlling our sexual behavior, and avoid doing business as usual, thereby maintaining the status quo.”

Of course, on one hand, Ms. Dodson is on to something here. Pornography has become, in many ways, part of the mainstream, and some porn actresses have become the new high priestesses of female liberation in the eyes of the public. These women help us to throw off the shackles of gender norms. There are some women involved in porn that have actually become wealthy and famous, therefore, some argue, we should celebrate porn as empowering to women.

But is this really a fair assessment? Certainly, some individual women are more wealthy and have more influence because of porn, but has porn benefited women as a group?

Does Porn Empower Wives?

Ask the thousands of women whose husbands have habitually turned to porn instead of intimacy. Do these women feel “empowered” by pornography? Do they enjoy marriages of mutual respect, honesty, shared power, and romantic love when their husbands are habitually watching films that portray the exact opposite?

Related: Should porn be used to spice up the bedroom?

Does Porn Empower Girlfriends?

Ask the thousands of women who are living in a culture where men walk around with porn-standards in their minds. Do these women feel empowered by porn when they have to compete with a novelty? Studies show, the more porn one consumes, the more one views others as unattractive by comparison.

Does Porn Empower Porn Actresses?

Ask the thousands of porn actresses who have come and gone from the porn industry. Do they feel empowered as a group?

Take a woman like Jenna Jameson, perhaps the most famous modern porn star. While Jameson has repeatedly defended her involvement in the porn industry, one only needs to read her own memoir to see the kind of so-called “empowerment” she experienced. The sleep deprivation, the inhumane shooting schedules, the sickness, the mental overload, the physical pain, the insecurity, the name-calling, the drug abuse, the pimps, the terrible way she was treated and disrespected on and off the porn set, the attempted rapes.

In Jameson’s own words, when you do porn “You are the product.” This is not the language of personal empowerment. Whatever measure of empowerment any one person might get from porn, they do it only be playing into the hands of a culture that would treat them as a piece of meat, not a person.

Related: 4 Secrets the Porn Industry Hopes You Never Find Out

Female Empowerment?

Don’t be fooled. When did female empowerment become about better sex and bigger orgasms?

When there are women around the globe who are illiterate, poor, hungry, raped, and sexually trafficked, how is one porn star’s feeling of personal liberation paving the way for the empowerment of women as a class?

“Feminist pornography” is an oxymoron. Working for an abusive industry that uses your body to make a buck can only feed a system of oppression, not fight it.

All the talk about female empowerment is just the new face PR for the porn industry.