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- No anti-porn feminist I know has suggested that there is one image, or even a few, that could lead a non-rapist to rape; the argument, rather, is that taken together, pornographic images create a world that is at best inhospitable to women, and at worst dangerous to their physical and emotional well-being. In an unfair and inaccurate article that is emblematic of how anti-porn feminist work is misrepresented, Daniel Bernardi claims that Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon believed that “watching pornography leads men to rape women.” Neither Dworkin nor MacKinnon “pioneers in developing a radical feminist critique of pornography, saw porn in such simplistic terms. Rather, both argued that porn has a complicated and multilayered effect on male sexuality, and that rape, rather than simply being caused by porn, is a cultural practice that has been woven into the fabric of a male-dominated society. Pornography, they argued, is one important agent of such a society since it so perfectly encodes woman-hating ideology, but to see it as simplistically and unquestionably leading to rape is to ignore how porn operates within the wider context of a society that is brimming with sexist imagery and ideology. If, then, we replace the “Does porn cause rape?” question with more nuanced questions that ask how porn messages shape our reality and our culture, we avoid falling into the images-lead-to-rape discussion. What this reformulation does is highlight the ways that the stories in pornography, by virtue of their consistency and coherence, create a worldview that the user integrates into his reservoir of beliefs that form his ways of understanding, seeing, and interpreting what goes on around him.
- Pornland: How Porn Hijacked Our Sexuality, Ch 5, Page 85, Gail Dines
- By the time they first encounter porn, most men have internalized the sexist ideology of our culture, and porn, rather than being an aberration, actually cements and consolidates their ideas about sexuality. And it does this in a way that gives them intense sexual pleasure. This framing of sexist ideology as sexy and hot gives porn a pass to deliver messages about women that in any other form would be seen as completely unacceptable. Imagine what would happen if suddenly we saw a slew of dramas and sitcoms on television where, say, blacks or Jews were repeatedly referred to in a racist or anti-Semitic way, where they got their hair pulled, faces slapped, and choked by white men pushing foreign objects into their mouths. My guess is that there would be an outcry and the images would not be defended on the grounds that they were just fantasy but rather would be seen for what they are: depictions of cruel acts that one group is perpetrating against another group. By wrapping the violence in a sexual cloak, porn renders it invisible, and those of us who protest the violence are consequently defined as anti-sex, not anti-violence.
- Pornland: How Porn Hijacked Our Sexuality, Gail Dines