First, I want to thank Dr. Susan Freedman for her wonderful article on The “F -Word” for Sexual Abuse Survivors:Is Forgiveness Possible. I really hope it was helpful to those who may be suffering from sexual abuse.
Our next writer is Ms. Vanessa Green the Senior Supervisor of the VCS Domestic Violence Program for Men, a NY Model batterer program in Rockland County, NY.
Today she writes on Pornography and its impact on women. We wanted to touch on this topic for a long time. When “And He Restoreth My Soul” was in its infancy stage the writer on this topic was unable to complete the article. However, Vanessa provides us with information which will educate and inform us on the depravity of Pornography.
All questions should be directed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or left on the comment section on the website.
Thank you again for being one of our followers.
Darlene J. Harris
Brief Information on Ms. Vanessa Green:
Vanessa Green is the Senior Supervisor of the VCS Domestic Violence Program for Men, a NY Model batterer program in Rockland County, NY. She is also the Racial Justice Organizer, for Gay Pride Rockland and for all additional anti-oppression work at VCS Inc.
Vanessa began her official journey of anti-oppression work as an advocate for the Rape Crisis Program in Orange County, NY. July 2001. During that time, Vanessa was also hired part-time as an instructor in the VCS Domestic Violence Program for Men. Two years later, Vanessa was promoted to Supervisor of that program’s Orange County, NY division and in September 2006, Vanessa began working full-time for VCS Inc. Vanessa is recognized as a New York State activist in the work to end racial injustice and men’s violence against women. Vanessa participated in a documentary on pornography and its impact on women by Dr. Chyng Feng Sun from Columbia University in 2005
IMPACT OF PORNOGRPHY ON WOMEN
Written by Vanessa Green August 2013
I felt privileged and honored when I was asked to write about the impact of pornography on women. At first I thought to myself: Isn’t it obvious that the pornography/sex industry is not uplifting/affirming to women? What I write today comes from my many years of experience as a Rape Crisis Advocate, the collected wisdom of the battered women’s movement, the warriors currently in the trenches to “end pornography” movement. These women who have worked tirelessly before me to end the pornography/sex industry like Andrea Dworkin, my mentor colleague and friend, Phyllis B. Frank and the countless others whose shoulders that I stand upon today.
Before I begin it’s important to lay some groundwork. The sex and pornography industry is a manifestation of sexism.i The analysis that I hold is informed by “oppression theory”ii . Using sexism and oppression theory as a framework, it becomes clear that the sex industry/pornography can never uplift and affirm women. Please also note that in this article the terms pornography and sex industry will be used interchangeably.
Let’s be clear, the sex industry’s primary consumers are men. The industry never has nor never was in the business of enhancing anyone’s relationship. It is a 10 billion dollar plus industry aimed at making money on the backs of women. Take for instance; one of the lucrative genres is Gonzo porn. This type of pornography involves sexual performance in which the male actor violates or appears to harm the female actor, depicting sex acts in which no actual woman would want to engage.. Men like this type of porn because it demeans, dehumanizes and devalues women. In an attempt to justify this abusive and destructive act, people will try to rationalize “that it’s not so bad,” or “it’s being taken out of context.” However, we must understand that this genre and others in the pornography/sex industry have to depict more violence against women in order to keep men happy. That is the context of the industry’s work. And we cannot forget the saying “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” It’s not my belief that men as a collective are sitting around a kitchen table saying “Lets figure out the most inhumane ways to degrade women”. Tragically, though, the pornography industry creates unreal and violent expressions of sexuality which men then consume and internalize.
While working as an advocate many of my victims, women, would tell me stories of how their male intimate partners could not have sex with them until he had masturbated to pornography, or had made them do some sex act which left them feeling dirty or degraded. This left them with feelings of inadequacy as women and as lovers. Nothing was wrong with these women; however their partners’ internet porn use led them to believe that they were in fact the problem. The perspective that I believe rightfully redirects the issue away from victimizing women to focusing on male consumption and perpetration. Women should never be blamed.
Due to the increased use of the internet, pornography has literally become available to men old and young, even young boys. Any man, including young boys at any age, can view pornography. Pornography is usually the first way a boy learns how to relate with a female. Scary isn’t it? “Recent research says that exposure to pornography for young boys are now 11yrs of age.”iii So young boys, due to the increased use of the internet are exposed to these types of inappropriate relationship styles at a young age. Let’s not get this “twisted”, when you hear claims about pornography as a vehicle for women’s sexual liberation. Remember that pornography is incredibly sexist and degrading to women. From the ugly language used to describe women, to positions of subordination, to actual sexual practices themselves, pornography is dehumanizing. At every avenue, the industry continues to push the limits of degradation of, and cruelty toward, women.
We must understand that if we want to end violence against women in this country, and in the world, we would have to end the pornography/sex industry. You cannot respect what you buy and sell. As we learned during the enslaved period of those stolen from Africa, and who were the chattel property of their masters; the master was allowed to do with his property that he purchased what he wanted. “Pornography is the one media genre in which overt racism is still acceptable. Not subtle, coded racism, but old-fashioned U.S. racism –stereotypical representations of the black male stud, the animalistic black woman, the hot Latina, the demure Asian geisha. Pornography vendors have a special category, “interracial,” which allows consumers to pursue the various combinations of racialized characters and racist scenarios.”iv
We live in a country where women still do not have the necessary resources available to them so that they do not have to make a living using their bodies for survival of basic human needs. Folks like to say “She chooses to be in those movies!” We must start asking ourselves “Where do our little girls’ dreams become deferred?” Talk shows will have them on and they will say how wonderful their lives have been. Cut to autobiographies/biographies and they are filled with childhood and adult trauma. Then, we in the movement to end pornography will read their stories and see lives filled with daily pain and constant dehumanization.
Stop blaming the victims and look at the industry that is only about harm and profit!
iSexism is both discrimination based on gender and the attitudes, stereotypes, and the cultural elements that promote this discrimination. Given the historical and continued imbalance of power, where men as a class are privileged over women as a class, an important, but often overlooked, part of the term is that sexism is that institutional power base. I reject the notion that women can be sexist towards men because women lack the institutional, systemic, and structural power that men have.
iiOppression is an unfair treatment which is based on the difference of race, sex, class, etc., and it has a big influence to human lives. According to Bell Hooks, oppression is a lack of liberation, right, and equality.
Oppressed people don’t have social, political, and economic power. Oppression also comes from an ideology that things should be normal. Institutions are fairly stable social arrangements and practices through which collective actions are taken. Examples of institutions in the U.S. include the legal, educational, health care, social service, government, media and criminal justice systems. Institutional Oppression is the systematic mistreatment of people within a social
identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions, solely based onthe person’s membership in the social identity group. Institutional Oppression occurs when established laws, customs, and practices systematically reflect and produce inequities based on one’s membership in targeted social identity groups. If oppressive consequences accrue to institutional laws, customs, or practices, the institution is oppressive whether or not the individuals maintaining those
iv Gail Dines