Pornography Can Lead To Violence toward Women Domestic violence and sexual assaults on women continue to plague American culture. According to Ms. Magazine, a woman has a seven times greater chance of experiencing a sexual attack in the present time than in 1933. This statistic indicates major changes in male attitudes about sexual aggressiveness toward women. It seems that men have an increasingly lower esteem of women. Why do women experience abuse now more than ever? One may look to American culture to explain the continued oppression of women. Sadly, aspects of our culture teach men to regard women as objects rather than human beings. For example pornography, a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States, exists primarily for the purpose of enjoyment by a male audience. The mass circulation of pornographic films and magazines provides cultural, ideological support for the increase in sexual attacks on women. The word pornography comes from the Greek root porne (which means harlot, prostitute or female captive) and graphos (which means description of). True to the root meaning of the word, pornographic material depicts women as articles purchased or captured. Pornography dehumanizes women. The material often focuses only on certain body parts such as the breast or legs, suggesting that a woman does not exist as a whole person but rather she consists of many pieces that a man can pick and choose from. Some pornographic material more blatantly portrays women as enslaved objects, showing their bodies in chains and bondage, down on all fours for a conquering male figure or pretending to enjoy pain. Even pornography that does not portray overtly abusive images remains hostile toward women. Depictions of sex between men and women more often than not fall into the dominant-passive model, where the women fall into the passive roll. Devoid of foreplay, tenderness, caring, love or romance, pornography’s main interest remains to exploit the female body for the purpose of commercial entertainment, erotic stimulation and pleasure for the male viewer. Many pornographic magazines such as Hustler and Penthouse overflow with anti-female messages and women represent the victims in most “slasher” or “horror” type movies. So many images of women enduring sexual assault, torture and degradation, brings about concern that the pairing of the male sexual stimulation caused by the material and images of violence toward women, may condition males to associate all sex with violence toward women. This association then, leads to sexual assaults and aggression toward women. We live in the most violent, advanced society in the world, with the highest rates of media violence of any nation. Furthermore, studies have shown that the states with the highest circulation of pornographic magazines had the highest rape rates, (Ms. Magazine). This repeated exposure to material that exploits women will desensitize those who view the material. This leads to an inability to empathize with women who fall victim to violence and sexual attacks. This lack of empathy for victims of domestic violence and rape, fosters the view that women provoke or could possibly prevent attacks against them. This view holds that a woman causes her rape by “asking for it.” Porn movies often depict sex crimes against women where, at the end of the film, she admits to having wanted the act committed against her. The tendency to blame the victim leads to a prolonging of the mental anguish caused by the violence and postpones the victim’s healing process. So much pornographic material flooding our magazines, airwaves (on cable) and bookstores as well as the growth in popularity of the Internet as a vessel to view and sell pornography has accelerated its availability to all time highs. Women can not ignore the abundance of pornographic material in our society with the misconception that it will eventually go away. In the United States residents have the first amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, therefore, many of those who oppose the porn industry feel powerless when it comes to fighting against it. But, the same right that protects the porn industry also protects anti-pornography campaigns, leaving women every right to fight for the protection of women’s safety and equality. However, to suggest that should women call for the censorship of pornography may not solve the problem that it creates. Making pornography illegal would likely drive it underground making it totally unregulated, potentially more popular and profitable. Rather than fighting for tougher obscenity laws, women should move to educate those around them about how pornography exploits women and can lead to rape and violence. The porn industry will likely remain abundant and profitable. However, women have to start somewhere if they want to change how pornography influences men. Attitudes about sex and violence can change if mothers raise young men to respect women and to recognize when material exploits women. Furthermore, girls should learn at a young age to respect their bodies and to avoid participating in the making of pornographic material as they mature.
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