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Women & Porn: An Incompatible Relationship?

Traditional heterosexual pornography is heavily problematic due to its complicity in misogyny, and the problem is further intensified in consideration of the female viewer. The stigma surrounding the woman who watches porn is caused partially by this inherent misogyny, and the possibility of the female being complicit in the “male gaze”.  The perpetual presence of the male gaze comes to fruition in both the content of pornography and the act of consummation itself. The objectification of women is a product of the focus on male-female sex being restricted to genitalia. A failure to demonstrate sex as a people-orientated (rather than genital-orientated) activity disregards the potential of porn to promote healthy sexual relationships that show a man and a woman enjoying sex together.

The woman becomes an object, rather than a subject, of pleasure, meaning that the female is unrealistically presented only for the stimulation of male sexual desire and fantasy. Nevertheless, pornography’s objectification is not just a female issue, for it presents unreal expectations for the male spectator. The male viewing experience is enhanced by disregarding the whole body of the male in order to enable his projection on to the scene and thus allow him stimulation that does not cross into “forbidden” homoerotic territory. Another dimension of complicity is thus introduced for the male viewer: he becomes both the voyeur and the metaphorical pleasure-seeker, as well as the perpetuator of the objectified state of women.  

 

(Photo Credit: www.metro.co.uk)

 

But where does this leave the female viewer?

Many females do enjoy watching porn, but this is problematised because the male voyeuristic position also becomes their own. The role of the female spectator is complex within the debate between female sexuality (often regarded as sexualisation in the context of pornography) and feminism, which can be mistakenly categorised as exclusive concepts. Aside from the obvious problematic misogyny within the porn industry, heterosexual porn’s male-centric perspective can be perceived as boring for women because the female rarely gains realistic gratification. Recently, some filmmakers have strived to create a sexual cinematic experience that allows pleasure from both male and female parties, thus encouraging a healthy viewing and exemplar experience for heterosexual relationships. This will allow women to view a version of pornography that does not potentially instil guilt for their complicity in the aggressiveness towards women and that also encourages realistic expectations for a woman to gain sexual gratification as well as the man.

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