Why is it that radical feminists assume all pornography is made by men, for men ? Because that is the assumption on which their assertion that porn is degrading, sexist, and damaging to women rests. Even sex-positive/liberal feminists often find themselves arguing that this isn’t necessarily the case, or that porn can be co-opted for feminist causes (feminist porn) or tamed so it is not degrading (woman-friendly porn). However, the assumption is still that so-called “mainstream porn” –(whatever that is) is patriarchal and damaging. From Carol Smart to Andrea Dworkin, to Kat Banyard and Jessica Valenti, the conflict between the two main feminist factions seems to agree on this point.
This confuses me. Okay, I’ll admit it, I usually don’t consume porn. I have a very vivid imagination and so many kinks that finding all of them represented in a single porn segment would be difficult. So, you could very well argue that what do I know? However, when I have viewed pornography – whether video, literary, or art – I did not find that it was created by and for men. Although pornography does seem to feature women more, that doesn’t just benefit men, but bisexual and lesbian women. Also, women aren’t represented a whole lot more. There is still plenty out there for the straight woman to enjoy. And neither are women degraded any more than men are. As for sites and blogs where amateurs create literary or art porn, there are as many female pornographers as male (AnimeOTK.com, for instance).
Perhaps the current assumption that pornography degrades women is based on ‘vanilla’ pornography (which I have never viewed and never will), but more alternative pornography (BDSM, vampire porn, etc) may be less degrading. I feel that ‘vanilla’ should not be confused with ‘mainstream’ – especially now that, thanks to the pathetic antifeminist sex-shaming of 50 Shades being interpreted as somehow ‘freeing’, everyone and anyone is rushing to explore BDSM. Furthermore, what the corporations produce is not the only source of pornography. Most pornography nowadays is amateur porn and it may be less degrading than the stuff churned out by corporations.
Andrea Dworkin believedthat BDSM porn was more degrading than vanilla porn, without offering a reason as to why. Such obvious discrimination only shames and stigmatises the BDSM community – both male and female. It only hurts the women who are kinky, especially kinky feminists.
And, at the end of the day, even the corporations are existing in an industry based on the values of consent. All sex workers in the industry are consenting adults, and if they’re not, that’s dealt with by police – which is quite easy in the current trafficking hysteria which has blown the very rare occurrence of trafficking in the UK and USA into a moral panic. So even if the porn is ‘degrading’, the employees are willing to work. Perhaps more focus should be on sex workers’ labour, health and human rights, as well as equal pay (female sex workers in porn earn up to 10 times as much as male sex workers).