March 7, 2018

On International Women’s Day, We Must Address the Role of Pornography in Fostering Inequality

The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #PressForProgress.

Individuals and organizations around the world are being encouraged to stay active and avoid complacency because “while we know that gender parity won’t happen overnight, the good news is that across the world women are making positive gains day by day.”

A call for mutual respect and equality between sexes is worthy of attention. But often people don’t take the time to consider the major forces that are normalizing, or even eroticizing, the inequality of women.

As it turns out, one particular industry in America and around the world is particularly adept at spreading messages that degrade and debase women.

The pornography industry.

This lucrative and pervasive industry continues to promote damaging narratives about women for the pleasure of its viewers, and the profit of its producers.

Research has shown that 88% of analyzed scenes from the most popular pornographic videos contained physical violence, and 94% of the time that violence was directed against the woman in the scene. Ninety-five percent of these victims of violence responded with either pleasure or neutrality. Meanwhile, men in the films were four times more likely than the women to be upset at any attack.(1)

In pornography, women will smile and thank you for being abused.

Unfortunately, the stories porn promotes have a significant cultural impact.InternationalWomensDay_Equality_Respect_Quotes

Research has shown that adult exposure to pornographic media is associated with believing a rape victim enjoys rape, (2) and increased acceptance of violence against women. (3)

The themes in pornography are witnessed over and over again and affirmed through chemical dopamine spikes in the brain. Often the result is ingrained beliefs held by individuals and society that women are objects to be used and abused for sexual pleasure.

Pornography cannot be tolerated in any society that strives to promote equality and respect between men and women. It is not only anti-woman, it is anti-human in its reduction of people into objects and its reduction of sex into selfish pleasure.

This year for International Women’s Day we must denounce all pornography as harmful, and join together to call for a world that respects human dignity.

To join the movement for human dignity and for freedom from sexual exploitation, sign up to receive our weekly updates, to take actions, and get involved!

You can also attend the 2018 Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Global Summit this April for a multidisciplinary event addressing all forms of sexual exploitation.

(1) Bridges, A. J., Wosnitzer, R., Scharrer, E., Chyng, S., and Liberman, R. (2010). Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update. Violence Against Women 16, 10: 1065–1085.

(2) Ohbuchi, K. Ikeda, T. & Takeuchi, G. (1994). Effects of violent pornography upon viewers rape myth beliefs: A study of Japanese males. Psychology, Crime & Law, 1, 71-81. (AND) Check, J. & Malamuth, N. (1985). An empirical assessment of some feminist hypotheses about rape. International Journal of Women’s Studies, 8, 414-423.

(3) Allen, M., Emmers, T. M., Gebhardt, L., & Giery, M. (1995). Pornography and rape myth acceptance. Journal of Communication, 45, 5-26.

Haley McNamara (Halverson)

Vice President and Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation

Haley McNamara (formerly Halverson) is the Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation in the UK, and a Vice President at the U.S. based National Center on Sexual Exploitation. She leads international efforts and joint campaigns to improve policies and education among global governing bodies, citizenry, and corporations regarding the full web of sexual exploitation issues. Her advocacy work has contributed to policy improvements in social media, online advertising, retail, and hotel industries. She has advocated at the United Nations, led international coalition campaigns, presented to Danish, Croatian, Colombian and Rwandan government officials, and more

She is a former member of the Washington DC Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. This Committee advises DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on the multi-faceted continuum of the District of Columbia’s child welfare services, including prevention, early intervention, treatment, and sources of permanency.

Haley regularly speaks and writes on topics including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, the exploitation of males, and more. She has presented before officials at the United Nations, as well as at several national symposia before influencers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Croatian government officials. She has provided training to Arlington County Child & Family Services on the social media grooming, recruitment, and advertising for sex trafficking. She has a Master of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University where she received honors for her thesis regarding the online commercial sexual exploitation marketplace.

Previously, Haley served for two years as Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she oversaw strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for a cultural media outlet. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) with a double major, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internships in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Times, NBC’s The Today Show, BBC News, New York Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Fox News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, the Washington Examiner, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, The Detroit News, Lifezette, The Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, EWTN News Nightly, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, The Drew Mariano Show on Relevant Radio, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

She has written op-eds for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post,, Washington Examiner,, Darling Magazine, the Daytona-Beach News Journal, and has been published in the Journal of Internet Law and the journal Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and ViolenceShe has also contributed to a digital middle school curriculum regarding the links between sex trafficking and pornography as well as the public health impacts of sex trafficking.

Further Reading