I read the paper written below on a film student’s opinion blog and found it profound, the relation of how submissive women are made to be in pornographic films as if they were worshiping the man and his genitals. Seems pornographers know how to attack a male sex addict’s subconscious with their film directing, helping us to lust after their product, more and more, creating a venue where women no longer have a soul, but instead are reduced to body parts made for sexual pleasure. One disturbing area of concern is the false belief by female porn actors that acting in a pornographic film is “empowering” or feeling that being objectified (or even sexually dominated) is ok. From my experience, these are the lies they need to tell in order to not be blackballed from a male-dominated industry. Because of the graphic nature of some of the examples cited, I have taken the liberty to edit out some of the paper in order to reduce any triggering material.
Male Dominance and Scopophilia in Pornography: Stabbing women with penises…and liking it.
Posted by cierapeters ⋅ 09.05.12
Most porn consists of women pleasing men. For example the positioning throughout the film is decided either by the director if it is a large production, the camera guy if it is more of an amateur thing, or by the guy co-staring in the film. Sometimes the position direction is audible and sometimes it’s not, but in any case it is not the woman deciding. The biggest example of how porn is about women pleasing men is in the foreplay [more specific the amount of time spent on men being pleasured than women]. Speaking of dominance and fellatio, in porn it means the woman literally kneeling in front of a man as one would kneel at the alter when worshiping God in church. Subliminally porn is suggesting that we should worship the phallus. Being on her knees servicing a man is not enough apparently because then he becomes forceful without any regard to whether he is hurting her or even if she can breathe. He is using his penis as a weapon, [attacking the female]. Her life is honestly in his hands [due to the possibility that she will] suffocate.
Often times women in porn are not considered women, or human for that matter, they are objects. They exists solely for men to look at and use for their sexual pleasure. Porn stars, strippers, pin-up girls and any girl in the sex industry is expected to look as if she has no flaws. They have perfect, gravity defying breasts, clothes that leave little to the imagination, shoes with impossible heels, no body hair, and extravagant make-up. They don’t have problems and they always smile. They essentially lack some key human characteristics, it’s as if they are dolls or robots. In chapter 11 of the book America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality at the Movies it says “By breaking the female body down into individual parts, and valuing certain parts more than the whole, patriarchal culture subtly refuses to recognize women as whole and entire beings. Women are instead figured as composites of fetishized body parts that are thought to appeal directly to the sexual desires of men” (Benshoff, and Griffin 248). This explains why pornography uses lots of close-ups on different sections of the body. It’s breaking them apart like one would take apart a mannequin from a department store. It also explains why it seems okay for the guy spit on the girl instead of using lubricant. In any other situation spitting on someone would be unacceptable but in porn it is acceptable. Other things such as pressing her face in to the bed/couch or slapping the girl in the face and asking her if she likes it are solely for the enjoyment of men and the girl is not expected to say anything other than yes. Girls in porn never say no, they like any and everything men want.
The reason for pornography’s popularity (in all it’s forms) can easily be explained by the theory of Scopophilia. Scopophilia as defined in Laura Mulvey’s article Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema is defined as pleasure in looking. She stated that Freud associated it “with taking other people as objects [and] subjecting them to a controlling and curious gaze” (Mulvey 344). This is precisely what pornography is, objectifying and subjecting women through gaze. The voyeuristic curiosity that we experience as children (i.e. discovering that girls do not have penises) carries over and we find pleasure in peeking into private worlds and viewing body parts and activities with those body parts that are supposed to be forbidden and private (Mulvey 344). It also serves as a means for those who are not adventurous enough or have partners who aren’t adventurous to experience something new. This curiosity, however can become mutated into an obsession producing “peeping toms, whose only sexual satisfaction can come from watching”, but peeping in the real world is not socially acceptable in American society and that is where porn comes to the rescue (Mulvey 344). It provides the inner peeping tom with freedom to explore and peep in multiple windows of [private sexual acts]. If however, one is tired of viewing in his own home, there are theaters such as Atlanta’s **** ******* where one can pay a fee (free for couples) to view pornographic films in one of their two theaters. A multitude of possibilities without the legal shame and the viewer can rewind or fast forward, pause to savor a particular moment or continuously watch the same scene over and over for hours or days on end and the girls never get tired. These video or web girls never tire of doing the same scene, they never have headaches or menstrual cramps, they don’t have children or husbands to go home to, they are always a click or page flip away waiting to please men.
There are people who would disagree and argue that pornography is not about male dominance. There are men who in fact enjoy role reversal and being dominated. There are not nearly as many websites or magazines catered to sadomasochism or BDSM with a female dominant or mistress, yet it is popular and women who make a living as dominatrixes earn good money. One woman, Melissa Febos tells the New York Post about her time as a dominatrix. She was paid by the hour (around $200) and the clients “consisted of stockbrokers, lawyers, doctors, rabbis, grandpas, bus drivers, restaurateurs and retirees,” who would make their appointments in place of lunch and would “stream in for their midday spankings” (Cahalan 2-3). In such a male dominant society however, men who like dominatrixes are viewed as odd or weak and may feel ashamed if friends or family found out. Yet, everyone needs balance, an opposite of something to even them out and men’s lives revolve around being dominant, thus some men might use it as a way to balance out the other aspects of their lives that are dominant. Their balance comes from a mistress and submitting to her commands.
Another opposing view is that of pornography being strictly for male pleasure. There are women who feel that porn gives pleasure to women also. Feminist author Lynne Segal thinks that “censoring pornography discourages women from completely understanding and expressing their sexuality” and that siding with anti-pornography feminist would be running the risk of “terminating women’s evolving exploration of sexuality and pleasure.” (Segal 148 & 152). Perhaps by seeing other women in pornographic films women will began to feel comfortable trying new things in their own bedrooms. In addition to Segal, other women feel that pornography is a good thing. Even female porn stars view themselves as feminists. Aside from the money, many women working in the pornography industry find the work as empowering. In an interview on ********.org, Annette Fuentes and Margaret Schrage interview six female porn stars in which they discuss using their fame to help them move into other areas such as scriptwriting and creating pornography with better stories that might attract more women. As for the actual sex on camera the women did not feel there was anything wrong with being objectified and that “inherently women are exhibitionists and men are voyeurs” (Fuentes, and Schrage 41-43). In a section of the interview, two of the women express:
Leonard: “Also the very radical feminists such as WAP, who would take us to task for degrading women, treating women like sex objects, exploiting women — women are sex objects. It’s okay to be a sex object.” Vera: “It’s delightful to be a sex object!” (Fuentes, and Schrage 41-43)
This also goes in hand with Mulvey’s theory that there is also pleasure in being looked at. These women enjoy their work and want you to view their films. It’s not only porn stars who enjoy putting themselves on display however, the website ************.com is an alternative pin-up site that features girls of a punk-rock look for those who dig tattoos and piercings. For a monthly or yearly fee members and view artistic nude photos of the girls as well as discuss them with other members and the girls themselves in forums and chatrooms. It’s a “vibrant, sex positive community” with an “audience of over five million visitors” (************.com). The same can be said of of any adolescent to young adult who has a Facebook page. Males routinely post photos of themselves shirtless while the girls bare as much skin as the site’s terms and conditions allow.
In conclusion, pornography serves as a window into the private or forbidden world of sexual fantasy. There are a variety of types available on many different platforms. Although there are some who believe that porn is empowering to women, watching a heterosexual pornographic film shows a perfectly, doll-like, made up girl [pleasuring a man]. In the majority these films the girl does not get to choose what happens to her, she simply submit to desires pleasurable to men. The films do not represent women as whole entire beings but objects and uses the camera frame to cut them into sections. The domination of men over women in pornography is not only the fantasy of almost every man, but also a reflection of American society.
Benshoff, Harry, and Sean Griffin. America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in the Movies. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. 248. Web.
Cahalan, Susannah. “My Life as Midtown Dominatrix.” New York Post. 24 02 2010: 2-3. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. Fuentes, Annette, and Margaret Schrage. “Deep Inside Porn Stars.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media. 04 1987: 41-43. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Media and Cultural Studies. (2006): 344. Web. 12 Dec. 2011.
Segal, Lynne. Pornography, Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego, Ca: Greenhaven Pr, 1997. 148 & 152. Print.