Fresh faced and open-hearted, we all enter the world with the simple expectation and blueprint for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our first human instincts and needs are to access and secure safety, acceptance, and an environment in which to thrive. None of us begin life thinking, “I can’t wait to sexually exploit someone.” Yet, the statistics show that males are the primary purchasers of sex and women are the primary vessels of exploitation.
Men—just as women—need love, acceptance, understanding, community, purpose, and challenge. For the male readers of this article, this is an appeal to your vulnerability. Yes, that six-syllabled, artfully avoided bad word within male circles.
According to researcher Brene Brown, men often identify with the following sentiment: “I want to experience your vulnerability but I don’t want to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is the courage in you and inadequacy in me. I’m drawn to your vulnerability but repelled by mine.”1
A sense of sexual entitlement mixed with miseducation (or no education) too often informs male sexual decision-making culture and undermines the capacity for authentic connection within relationships. Prolific pornography consumption has unwittingly become the male school for abusing women.
When the core of your sexual education is pornography, sexual callousness, violence, and abuse of power is likely to follow. The fundamental mindsets instilled by pornography are sexual objectification, normalization of violence, and acceptance of rape myths: the building blocks of male sexual entitlement.
So, what can happen when a misplaced sense of entitlement (i.e. a situation in which you have the right to do or have something) grows, expands, and is fueled by ignorance, fear, myth, and—in too many cases—arbitrarily established rules?
Simply put, injustice—especially among the most vulnerable among us: women and children.
The violence and sexualized racism against women relished in pornography is rooted in an entitlement mindset.
As stated by author Gale Dines, “The racial politics of the porn industry today mirror those of pop culture in that the majority of people involved in the production end of the business is white. … In porn, women of color are generally relegated to gunzo, a genre that has little glamour, security, or chic status. Here women have few fan club Web sites, do not make it to pop culture, and have to endure body-punishing sex.”2
The long-standing and destructive notions sadly engrained in society—and surely fueled by entitlement and objectification—teach that women’s bodies exist for the distraction, pleasure, and recreation of men.
With the click of a mouse or thumb across any mobile device, countless depictions of women being stalked, badgered, strangled, slapped, raped, gagged, verbally accosted, or humiliated in seemly endless combinations is readily consumed and represents abject disregard for their well-being.
Violence is never harmless. Filmed prostitution (pornography) is absolute violence and abuse against women and children.
Many of the real sex acts viewed in pornography too often include underaged prostituted individuals being abused and/or raped. At this point many will be thinking these were age-verified willing actresses and no harm is occurring. However, as evidenced by survivors speaking out, many people portrayed in pornography are trafficked, prostituted, or coerced individuals.
Your next impression may run along the lines of the “free choice” women have in participation. The women and children filmed in pornography are not merely acting. They are performing real sexual acts.
Choice driven by disenfranchisement, duress, societal exclusions, mental illness, male sexual demand, and clustered power does not equate to viable options for many vulnerable and marginalized individuals.
Dignified work affords each of us autonomy, mobility, sustainability and actual choice. Sex for pay does not equal dignified work. It leaves its participants void of upward mobility, health benefits, retirement provisions, or any for the aforementioned amenities. Everyone deserves dignity.
Thoughts are powerful, filled with enormous potential. Our thoughts inform our desires and intentions, eventually shaping our actions and character. Men’s thoughts have long shaped our world.
Men: You own the thought power to co-create a world without sexual exploitation—one wherein all have opportunities for deep relational intimacy, real love, and respect. You can help build a richer sexual environment for us all one thought, one realization, and one action at a time.
“Paying For Love” by Emma McCallion
If pornography consumption has altered your quality of life, know that real support is available. For further discovery, support, or help please see resources here, here, here, and here.
1Brene Brown, Daring Greatly How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead (New York NY: Avery Press, 2015), P. 41 – 42.
2Gail Dines, PORNLAND How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality (Boston MA: Beacon Press, 2010), P. 122 -123.