Skip to main content

“Although the most compelling critiques of pornography over the past four decades have been articulated by radical feminists, many young people—including women—assume that challenges to the pornographic culture come only from conservative and/or religious perspectives. As a result, secular and liberal folks often assume that they must endorse porn to be cool.”

These words are from
an article written by Robert Jensen, a brilliant thinker, radical feminist and exceptional influencer.

He goes on to say:

“The feminist critique of pornography argues that pornography is not just sex on a screen, not merely a natural extension of human sexual desire adapted to modern technology. Feminist critics such as the late Andrea Dworkin pointed out that most pornography is sex within the domination/subordination dynamic of patriarchy, with the primary dynamic being male domination and female subordination.”

Jensen clearly articulates what radical feminism means, and how men can understand the system that we all live in, which not only harms women, but is detrimental to men as well. If you have been struggling to wrap your head around where you sit on this issue, I encourage you to watch this interview.

When I deliver presentations to students, I pose a very similar question to Jensen. He says:

Imagine that heterosexual women in your social network are asked out by two guys. The men are equivalent in all the ways that matter to you—sense of humour, intelligence, appearance—and the only clear difference is that one regularly masturbates to pornography and the other never looks at it. Who would you rather go out with? The student winced and acknowledged that she—and most, if not all, of her friends—would choose the non-porn user.

Why the disparity between the stated commitment to being porn-friendly and the actual preference in partners? Further conversation with those students, and many others, suggests that without having ever read a feminist critique, women know what pornography is (male dominance made sexually arousing) and how men use it (as a masturbation facilitator, which helps condition their sexual imaginations to that dominance). But these same women feel a sense of resignation about contemporary pop culture; there’s simply nowhere to turn if one wants to move in “normal” social circles.

It’s hard to argue with common sense.

Call out for men and boys to take a stand against prostitution. We need you to lead the way in abolishing the commodification of women and girls by refusing to take part. Will you add your name?
Liz Walker

International authority on porn harms, education and advocacy.