How Does Pornography Portray Women?

In the pornography reading, Wendy McElroy describes three Feminist positions on pornography. The first being that pornography is “an expression of male culture through which women are commodified and exploited.” The second, “combines a respect for free speech with the principle ‘a woman’s body, a woman’s right’ and thus produces a defense of pornography along the lines of ‘I don’t approve of it, but everyone has the right to consume or produce words and images’.” And the final view being that pornography actually benefits women.

 I personally fall into the second category. Although pornography is not something I would partake in or that I necessarily approve of, I do believe that each person has the right to do what they want with their body. And if a woman chooses to partake in pornographic films, if it is not affecting me in any way, then so be it.

 Though I do believe everyone has the right to make choices as to what they do with their body, I do have a lot of problems with the way the porn industry works. Many pornographic films portray women as objects used to fulfill a male’s sexual needs. The films are often very aggressive and in my opinion, the women look as if they have to “fake” having sexual pleasure. Pornographic films objectify women and could potentially set a standard for how men treat women even outside of the bedroom.

 In class this evening, the following question was asked, “If many people feel that pornographic films objectify women, why was the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy so popular particularly amongst women? For those of you who don’t know, the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy is about a man who becomes romantically involved with a young woman and in the bedroom, he is constantly the dominant one and he forces her to be his submissive and endure the physical pain he sometimes causes her. What do you guys think about this? Do you think this is contradictory in any way? Or do you think the two situations are unable to be compared due to the couple’s romantic involvement in the book and the lack of romantic involvement in pornographic films?


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