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How does Porn culture affect Women?

For a country that shies away from imparting sex education in schools, India remains the 3rd largest country that watches porn, according to Pornhub data for 2018. Porn remains a big and real part of the lives of our people, and 67 percent men watch porn in our country. Out of this, 28 percent are in the age group of 18 and 24 years, while 35 percent fall in the age group of 25 and 34 years. But these figures should not astray us from the fact that porn has lethal potential in impacting and proliferating violence against a particular gender in society.


This brings us to the question: why does one watch porn and what does it do for a human being? Pornography, often shortened to porn, is the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal, according to Wikipedia.  In the present times of multimedia platforms, porn can be accessed online, via magazines and even on film. Its purpose is that it fulfills various sexual fantasies of individuals which helps them understand what works for them sexually and what doesn’t. But these fantasy portrayals can get repetitive and boring after a while. Therefore, in the process of finding new highs, one may stumble upon darker themes like men being aggressive, controlling and sexually dominating women. 


While there is no problem in watching porn, a common problem with it is that it often portrays women as objects of gratification, thereby giving a sense of entitlement to the male members of society, who go on to feel that it is their right to live out these fantasies and the duty of a woman to comply. Porn culture also changes the way women think about their bodies, their sexuality and their relationships. It sets unrealistic beauty standards, like having a clean-shaven vagina and having the perfect body in order to be desirable. It also puts pressure on women to perform or behave a certain way in bed that may lead them to involve in sexual acts they aren’t fully willing to participate in. This can reduce intimacy between couples and may fuel acts of sexual aggression and harassment. 


We are all well aware how the media and society feeds on the systematic dehumanization of an oppressed group, in this case, women. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the porn industry initially rallying as a safe outlet for sexual release and frustration has now altered into reducing women to sex objects, thereby preying onto the ideas of self-objectification. Videos of non-consensual sex, child pornography, revenge porn and acts of sexual coercion desensitizes viewers towards rape and sexual harassment. 


The more porn sexualizes violent behavior in the name of seduction and romance, the more it normalizes acts of sexual offense. Teens who grow up watching these videos barely understand the difference between right and wrong, respect and disrespect and thereby, consent and dissent. Children and youngsters who are exposed to porn are more likely to build unrealistic standards about sex and consent. They can also have a more negative and retractable approach towards their roles and identities in a relationship and a rather carefree and callous one towards sexual relationships.  It is then that another category of porn is born: revenge born. Revenge porn are videos of sexual acts between two individuals, which is later uploaded without the consent of the participants. In most cases, when these videos are out, they affect a woman more as compared to a man, stripping her off her dignity and brings great shame to her family. This also reflects our deep-rooted patriarchal notions and how men do not understand and respect women. 


In a country where sexual education is something that makes us uncomfortable, many turn to porn to satisfy their curiosity. And while there is nothing wrong in finding ways to express oneself sexually, just watching porn without any guidance from anyone is a dangerous process and may result in making one get lost in its darker side. The solution may not be as rampant as calling for a moral panic or censorship, but it needs to be stressed that porn is strictly for entertainment purposes. Involving sex therapists, counsellors and psychologists can also play an important role who can have discussions with youth, and make them realize the difference between pornography and the real world. 


Having said this, women can find a safe portal for viewing porn without constantly being objectified, through sites specifically designed and curated for them. In fact, it has been stated that 33 percent of porn watchers in India are women. Out of those women who watch porn, 76 percent are in the age group of 18-36 years and watch porn at least once a month, while 21 percent watch it once a week. This means that not only is there a demand but also the need for safe sites to view porn. In such a case, sites like make love not porn or lady cheeky are considered as safe spaces for women, where porn is produced and documented ethically and does not act as a medium of suppressing womenkind. This, of course does not change the underlying fact that porn on other websites isn’t problematic, rather just provides a solution to women who want to watch porn without the added baggage of degradation, humiliation or violence.

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