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.

The Numbers

300+

NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.

100+

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.

93

NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.

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