Pornography through videos, images, and stories has been prevalent since time immemorial. Humans are inherently voyeuristic which has led to sex and pleasure being placed at the pedestal. Staring from the Kama Sutra to virtual reality porn, we surely have come a long way.
Pornography with its several dimensions and categories has gradually developed into an extremely male-pleasure centric idea. With perfect bodies catering to the patriarchal idea of beauty, porn not only encourages a false set of reality and expectations, but it also paves the way to the idea of men being dominant and seeking pleasure in the suppression of women.
PornHub’s #4 most-watched video of the first week of January 2020 with over 4 million views is of a teen girl with her hands/feet shackled down, mouth gagged, penetrated with a machine and electrocuted. Several individuals objected to the very act and deemed as non-consensual, evoking violence and abuse. However, the performer, Addee Kate, later clarified that it was consensual.
Manvi Jain, a student of Sri Venkateswara College says, “Understanding porn is extremely subjective because there are so many categories of porn. For instance, if you watch femdom, it’s more empowering as the woman is in charge and is not shown as an object. Whereas, if you watch BDSM or just plain vanilla, it portrays the woman as a mere sexual object.”
BDSM or Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, and Sadism/Masochism has been questioned and refuted as highly patriarchal and sexist towards all the performing genders. Seeking pleasure by evoking pain in others through torture is inherently leading to a dominant and submissive relationship where mostly, the male and female respectively take their positions.
Even though consent forms the ground rock of all sexual practices, why are porn and its categories considered demeaning?
BDSM and degradation of women hang on a very thin thread. The difference between the two lies on a concept as simple as consent. It is essential to understand that dominating and choosing to be submissive is a choice, however, constant consumption of a similar kind of act, say, male domination over a female, implicitly states the normalised hierarchy in a heterosexual relationship.
Sneha Agrawal, a Journalism student says, “In porn, women come with the very heavy cost of losing control over how they’re being treated during the course of sexual activity. Porn normalises such treatment, where men inherently feel that it’s normal or alright if they behave in a certain manner, which is the most problematic part.” She continues talking about how porn serves as a ‘sexual guide’ to a large number of adults. The repercussions of which is, they assume whatever is being done to their partner in order to derive pleasure is normal.
On similar lines, Disha Arya believes BDSM to be inherently problematic and arising from a desire to control. “I dislike how rough sex is romanticised. I dislike how male domination and female submission is normalised. We as a society expect women to be submissive. Men are introduced to porn pretty young, seeing this as the norm, they believe that they’re the ones who are supposed to take control.”
Porn is inherently so male-centric that they had to make a separate category to cater to women’s needs under the banner of ‘porn for women’. In 2016, there was an increase of 168% in searches for lesbian and 218% in female-friendly. These numbers portray that mainstream porn clearly doesn’t cater to their XX chromosome audience. Talking of consent implying choice and desire, 64.6% want to be dominated as opposed to the 53.3% men.
Feature Image Credits: Goodreads